The Bigger Picture

By Iya Perez

When people praise your talent or your intelligence, do you ever feel bothered, even just in the slightest way? I do not mean for you to feel guilty for or be ashamed of your talent and your intelligence and your accomplishments at all- rather, this serves as a reminder to you all that we should be more self-aware. Statements of praise towards someone's talent or intelligence alone are simply facades most of us are unfamiliar with. We may not always realize that behind it is a living carousel. This can translate to the common misconception that if you lack a certain talent/skill on your first few tries or experience failure along the way, you simply have to live with the fact that you're never going to be able to achieve success. We are all too preoccupied by the quest of finding a talent which we all could fit into. Immediately, we dismiss those which we only thought 'could've been' just because we are lead into thinking that everything comes from natural skill. Sometimes, we even tend to withdraw ourselves from the chances we could take because of the fear of showing other people that we lack the adequate ability.

Have you realized that the process you went through to achieve your accomplishments is rarely ever acknowledged, compared to the accomplishment itself? People tend to dismiss the necessity in recognizing the hard work and effort put into individuals' studies, jobs, extracurricular activities. It's like only glorifying the sunshine and the rainbows while completely leaving out the rain and the thunderstorms which came right before them.

On this same note, the website mentions that people could receive praise in an improper way and may therefore find themselves demotivated. 'Ability vs. effort' was considered to be one of the dangers of praise in the said article:
“Mueller and Dweck (1998) gave 400 children a test and then told each that they had got 80% right. They then told half that this must be because they were intelligent and the other half it must be because they worked hard. They then offered them all a choice of an easy task or a hard task. 65% of those told they were clever chose the easy task, which was chosen by only 45% of those who were praised for effort."

In other words, those who had been praised for being clever subsequently avoided difficult tasks that might make them appear less intelligent. Interestingly, more of those who had  been praised for effort chose the harder task as they now saw hard work as gaining desirable praise. If you tell a person they already have the ability do so something, you are also telling them that they do not need to work.”

The next time you put your voice into an intention of encouragement, take a broader view on success. Acknowledge the rest of the iceberg, what lies hidden by the vast sea, rather than just its surface solely visible to the naked eye. After all, where could we all be without the sacrifices we make along the way? We cannot reach the destination without taking a route of some sort. Besides, an individual's passion is better measured by the whole process one has undergone to reach their goal.

But it doesn't stop here. I take a statement out of Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outlier: The Story of Success, "We all know that successful people come from hardy seeds. But do we know enough about the sunlight that warmed them, the soil in which they put down the roots, and the rabbits and lumberjacks they were lucky enough to avoid? This is not a book about tall trees but it's a book about forests." This being said, it is necessary to utilize a closer insight often overlooked and limit the factors of an individual's success and recognize that indeed, no successful person becomes triumphant alone.


Praise, (n.d.). Changing Minds. Retrieved from

Srivastava, S. (2014, March 25). What did Malcom Gladwell actually say about the 10,000 hour rule?. 

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