Why you shouldnt tell your child theyre smart

Last week, we talked about the important of grit and resilience.

And I asked you to take the Grit Test. I also offered to share my Grit Score if you would share yours. Some of you did – thank you!

Pauline, Vivienne, Dale, Andrea, Andrea (yes, another one!), Ed, Margaret  and Rob shared their scores and most of them were very impressive - six scores in the excellent range of 4+. Well done!

And me? My Grit Score is: 3.0. This comes out on the average side of the scale. It’s clearly not one of my strengths.

If Grit is essential for long-term success, then the obvious question is: Can you develop it?

My colleague Geoff who we mentioned last week (Best Day Done) improved his score by 23% in six months. He went from a low score of 2.6 to an average score of 3.2.

He achieved this shift by learning from Carol Dweck’s research into developing a Growth Mindset.

Dweck identified two types of mindset that impact what tasks we tackle and how long we stick at them.

The Fixed Mindset is limiting because your fundamental belief about yourself and what you are capable of is fixed. This means you are likely to be black and white - I can either do this or I can’t. Not a lot of grit there!

In contrast, anything is possible inside the Growth Mindset because you’re more likely to stick at your tasks and find a way to succeed. True grit!

Given your career is a 40-50 year project; this will be an important factor in the level of success you achieve.


As you can see from the table above that summarizes Dweck’s work, we promote a Fixed Mindset when we praise people based on innate qualities such as ‘You are smart’.

A better strategy is to promote a Growth Mindset by praising people for their effort. This applies to your children, your work colleagues and your own self-talk.

And here is your challenge for this week…

Find some gritty people to hang out with. Grit is contagious so this is an easy way to improve your own resilience. Ask them to take the Grit Test so you can compare scores and learn from each other about what works.

PS: I have released a new block of coaching sessions from the first week of August. If you, or any of your team, would benefit from coaching support please email me here.