How Smart Can Look Dumb

Researchers from the Clinical Psychophysiology Lab at Michigan State University found that people fall into one of two camps when it comes to mistakes: those who have a fixed mindset (Forget this. I’ll never be good at it) and those who have a growth mindset (What a wake-up call! Let’s see what I did wrong so I won’t do it again).

“By paying attention to mistakes, we invest more time and effort to correct them,” says study author Jason Moser. “The result is that we make the mistake work for us.”

I never learned a thing from the putts I made. ~ Jack Nicklaus

Carol Dweck in her book Mindset, concludes “those with a growth mindset land on their feet because they acknowledge their mistakes and use them to get better. Those with a fixed mindset are bound to repeat their mistakes because they try their best to ignore them.”

“When we repeat a mistake it is not a mistake anymore: it is a decision.” – Paulo Coelho

Modified from work by Travis Bradberry founder of TalentSmart, here are 9 dumb things we can learn from to make these mistakes only once:

#1 – Believing in someone or something that’s too good to be true.
Some people are so charismatic and so confident that it can be tempting to follow anything they say. They speak endlessly of how successful their businesses are, how well liked they are, who they know, and how many opportunities they can offer you. Growth mindset people only need to be tricked once before they start to think twice about a deal that sounds too good to be true. The results of naivety and acting gullible, by not checking facts, can be catastrophic. See our hiring mistakes blog for details.

#2 – Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. ~ Albert Einstein
There are a lot of people who seem determined that two plus two will eventually equal five. The fact is simple: if you keep the same approach, you’ll keep getting the same results, no matter how much you hope for the opposite. Being smart and wanting a different result requires a change in our approach, even when it’s painful to do so.

In order to discover new lands, one must be willing to lose sight of the shore.”   – Andre Gide.

#3 – Failing to delay gratification.
We live in a cell phone device world and we can swipe movies, TV shows, and friend-likes instantly. Smart people know that gratification for customer satisfaction, love, and trust comes with a delay button.  

#4 – Losing sight of the big picture is more about losing sight of our values.
It’s so easy to become head-down busy, working so hard on what’s right in front of us that we lose sight of the big picture. Smart looks like learning how to keep this in check by weighing daily priorities against a carefully calculated goal. It’s not that we don’t care about small-scale work, we just have the discipline and perspective to adjust the course as necessary. Life is all about the big picture, and when we lose sight of it, everything suffers.

#5 – Not doing our homework.
Everybody’s taken a shortcut at some point, whether it was copying a friend’s biology assignment or strolling into an important meeting unprepared. Smart looks like realizing that while we may occasionally get lucky, that approach will hold us back from achieving our full potential.  Smart is not leaving things to chance, minimizing the importance of a meeting, or downplaying the need to prep. There is no substitute for hard work and due diligence. Know that if we don’t do our homework, we’ll never learn anything—and that’s a surefire way to plateau and stall on our career path.

#6 – Knowing the difference between courage and being something we’re not.
It’s important to stretch ourselves to try new things. Convincing others we are great at something we haven’t done is less noble. Smart communications are being open to areas of strength and doubt with high self-awareness. Some people seem not to realize that everyone else can see right through their act. They don’t recognize the relationships they’ve damaged, the jobs they’ve lost, and the opportunities they’ve missed as a result of trying to be someone they’re not. Be authentic and win more!

#7 – Trying to please everyone.
We all make this mistake at some point, and smart looks like realizing that to please everybody lets everybody down. Sadly, nurses, teachers, and ministers are in nurturing caring professions that seem to turn our heroes into martyrs. Smart looks like knowing that giving until it hurts is a recipe for hurting ourselves, our loved ones, and those important to our values. Choose helping ourselves first to be better at helping others.

#8 – Playing the victim.
News reports and our social media feeds are filled with stories of people who seem to get ahead by playing the victim. Smart people may try it once but they realize quickly that it’s a form of manipulation and that any benefits will come to a screeching halt as soon as people see that it’s a game. There is a more subtle aspect of this strategy that only truly smart people grasp: to play the victim, you have to give up your power, and you can’t put a value on that.

#9 – Trying to change someone.
People change for only two reasons: they are forced to (Fear of Failure) or they want to (Hope for Reward). House fires push people out, and treating other relationships and business issues like a house fire doesn’t work. We get a chance to instill in others a desire to want to change themselves. Still, it’s tempting to try to change someone who doesn’t want to change, as if our sheer will and desire for them to improve will change them. Smart looks like building our lives around genuine, positive people and working to avoid problematic people that bring us down.

Life is tough – even tougher if you’re Dumb – Don’t be Dumb.

Jim

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