Ability is defined as “the means or skill to do something.” Where do we get our abilities from? Are they something we are born with or are abilities able to be developed? The answers to those questions depend on the mindset of the person.
Based on studies completed by Dr. Carol Dweck, students who had the fixed mindset blamed other people or things when their abilities were limited. Our fixed mindset students will state things such as “I’m too stupid, so I can’t do this” or “If Johnny wasn’t tapping his pencil so loud I would have been able to finish.” These students feel their abilities are dependent on other things, not themselves.
In Dr. Dweck's book Mindset she explores people who had phenomenal abilities. These examples might help put things into perspective for our students. She cites that before Thomas Edison invented the light bulb he worked on a team with thirty assistants and they spent countless hours working on their project. Dr. Dweck mentions how it took Charles Darwin half a lifetime and hundreds of consultations with colleagues before piecing together The Origin of Species.
It would have been very easy for these scientists to give up and just claim they didn’t have the ability to reach their goal, but they kept working and created their skills. They had the growth mindset.
With a growth mindset, we realize that our abilities are based on how much effort we put into the project. If we are not skilled in something yet, we need to keep working and studying so we will achieve our goals.