Wednesday, 22 November 2023 04:42

Psychologist on how to reach your potential: People ‘really underestimate the slow learners, the late bloomers’

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Are you a formerly "gifted" kid, struggling to find success as an adult? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant may have a solution for you.

Put simply: Instead of giving up when things don't come naturally to you, start thinking like a "late bloomer."

"Natural talent is overrated," Grant, a bestselling author and psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, recently told CNBC's "Squawk Box." "Most child prodigies do not grow up to become adult geniuses. And I think that leaves us to really underestimate the slow learners, the late bloomers."

You need to be able to try new things, problem solve and accept mistakes to reach the height of your capabilities, Grant wrote in his newest book, "Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things." Those "slow learners" develop such traits by necessity from an earlier age, priming them well for achievement later in life, he added.

Late bloomers also tend to be particularly skilled at turning weaknesses into strengths, and if you can master something you're bad at, you're well-equipped to handle most types of challenges, Grant told "Squawk Box."

That doesn't mean the "naturally gifted" are doomed, according to Grant. His book outlines ways anyone can work toward reaching their potential:

  • Ask superiors and peers for advice rather than feedback. You'll elicit more interesting and relatable takeaways.
  • Find new and fun ways to practice your skills. Athletes often call this cross-training: Instead of running drills or plays repetitively, they lift weights, practice yoga or even attend dance classes. No matter your context, doing this can help prevent burnout.
  • Expect and accept awkwardness. Mastering anything is difficult, and that shouldn't deter you from trying.

"The feeling that something is uncomfortable is a signal that you're about to learn something new," Grant told the New York Times last month. "That's a signal we should not only pay attention to, but amplify.

Research backs that up. If you've been dubbed an auditory learner, for instance, you might prefer audiobooks or podcasts over written texts. But the format doesn't actually affect your ability to master the material: People grasp new concepts more effectively when they're pushed outside their comfort zones, studies suggest.

Character skills can be highly valuable in the workplace. Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban actively seeks out employees who make the office a better place rather than scouring through impressive resumes, he told Grant's "Re:Thinking" podcast last year.

In one example, Cuban said he hired a CEO who had less relevant experience on their resume, but excelled at "employee support and employee training and enhancement."

″[They] may not have had the experience on the business side that we otherwise would have gone for," said Cuban. "[But they] were putting [employees] in a position to succeed [better] than anybody I've seen."



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