The Connection Magazine AIM MUTUAL Fall 2019 - Page 15

FORMUL A FOR GROW TH WHEN YOU look at the development of world-class performers, I truly believe that you’ll find a blueprint for any of us who are trying to achieve excellence in our own lives. The blueprint was first documented by Benjamin Bloom, a psychologist at the University of Chicago. He studied 120 world-class performers in diverse domains ranging from tennis to neuroscience. Based on his observations and my own, I’ve identified four distinct phases of developing talent: interest, practice, integration, and growth. 1. Interest Before you do anything else, you have to be interested in what you do. You have to be authentically curious. You have to want to learn more just for the sake of learning more. This period Professor Bloom often called the Early Years, or sometimes the Romantic Period because there is this playful flirtation with something that you may or may not pursue more seriously. 2. Practice After the early Romantic Period comes a pattern of dedicated practice. This involves working on weaknesses, looking to a coach for feedback, and really striving with effort to consistently improve. Of course, dedicated practice is a more serious pursuit, which is why this stage is sometimes called the Precision Period. Scientists today call it deliberate practice: looking with intention for ways to improve in a skill, with feedback typically from a coach or a mentor. 3. Integration Practice is a prelude to the third stage, a period called the Later Years or the Period of Integration. After you integrate early playful interest with the capacity for sustained deliberate practice, this thing that you’re doing—whether it’s swimming or chess or running a company—starts to become a part of who you are. It is part of your identity. This is part of our purpose here on earth. Because we’re human, all of us crave being part of something larger than ourselves. It’s an integration of everything, including a sense in which we as individuals are serving a larger group. 4. Growth Throughout all of our development, no matter how old we are, we need a mindset of growth and optimism. This is a topic of scientific study that dates back 50 years. It is the idea that we can approach a situation—good or bad—and think, “What can I do here? What can I as an individual do to change things for the better and keep things on course?” That is an optimistic, growth-oriented mindset. You need it if you’re seven, you need it if you’re 77, if you’re going to pursue excellence or persevere when life gets hard. Being growth-oriented toward possibility allows people to get back up when we fail. Even when you’re budding in your interest, even when you’re practicing deliberately, even when you are fulfilled by a beyond-the-self purpose—at all stages you need that mindset of growth and of optimism. Angela Duckworth Angela Duckworth is the Founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development. She is also the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, faculty co-director of the Penn-Wharton Behavior Change For Good Initiative, and faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics. Previously, Angela founded a summer school for low-income children that was profiled as a Harvard Kennedy School case study and, in 2018, celebrated its 25th. She has also been a McKinsey management consultant and a math and science teacher. Angela completed her undergraduate degree in Advanced Studies Neurobiology at Harvard, an MSc in Neuroscience from Oxford University, and a PhD in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her first book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, is a No. 1 New York Times best seller. ***This article was adapted from an interview with Amazon Marketplace. - 15