Recently I read the book Bounce by Matthew Syed. This part of the book set a bomb off in my cranium!
"In 1998, Carol Dweck and a colleague took four hundred 5th graders and gave them a series of simple puzzles. Afterward, each of the students was given his or her score, plus something else: six words of praise. Half the students were praised for intelligence: 'You must be smart at this!' The other half were praised for effort: 'You must have worked really hard!'
Dweck was seeking to test whether these simple words, with their subtly different emphases, could make a difference to the students' mind-sets; whether they could mold the students' attitude to success and failure; whether they could have a measurable impact on persistence and performance.
The results were remarkable.
After the 1st test, the students were given a choice of whether to take a hard or an easy test. A full two-thirds of the students praised for intelligence chose the easy task: they did not want to risk losing their "smart" label by potentially failing at the harder test. But 90% of the effort praised group chose the tough test: they were not interested in success, but in exploring potentially fruitful challenge. They wanted to prove just how hardworking they were.
Next the students were given a test so tough that none of them succeeded. But once again, there was a dramatic difference between the ways they responded to failure. Those praised for intelligence interpreted their failures as proof that they were no good at puzzles after all. The group praised for effort persevered on the test far longer, enjoyed it far more, and did not suffer any loss in confidence.
Finally, the experiment came full circle, giving the students a chance to do a test of equal difficultly to the very first test. What happened? The group praised for intelligence showed a 20% decline in performance compared to the 1st test, even though it was no harder. But those in the effort praised group increased their scores by 30%: failure had actually spurred them on.
And all of those differences turned on the difference in six simple words spoken after their very first test."
Actual evidence that telling someone how good they are actually hurts them in the long run.
I used to have a couple friends who always used to say to me or others, "I would get just as good of grades if I worked as hard as you," or "Yeah but if I shot as much as he did I probably would be just as good....." Here's the thing, they didn't.
If you look at every great program that has great results no matter who is playing year after year (Bellicheck, Coach K, Bill Walsh) you see that a major principle instilled into their program is praising effort.
Comes back to the quote that "Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard."
The Other Side:
Lately I haven't been able to turn off Matt & Kim's new record Sidewalks. They're energy is off the charts and bring a sound that you've never heard.
Here's one of their past songs you might recognize.