Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Persistence, Tenacity or Self-Efficacy?

  • Julie Andrews tells of taking a screen test for MGM studios when she was 12 years old. "They needed to gussy me up a bit because I was so exceedingly plain," she writes. "The final determination was 'She's not photogenic enough for film.'"

  • J.K. Rowling's book about a boy wizard was rejected by 12 publishers before a small London house picked up "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone."

  • Decca Records turned down a contract with the Beatles, saying "We don't like their sound."

  • Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor who said he "lacked imagination."

  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high-school varsity basketball team sophomore year.

Melinda Beck poses the question in the WSJ - What makes some people rebound from defeats and go on to greatness while others throw in the towel? The answer is self-efficacy - the unshakable belief some people have that they have what it takes to succeed.

This trait is inherent in some but there are techniques to help acquire this mindset.

"You can develop a resilient mindset at any age," says Robert Brooks, a Harvard Medical School psychologist who has studied resilience for decades. One key, he says, is to avoid self-defeating assumptions. If you are fired or dumped by a girlfriend, don't magnify the rejection and assume you'll never get another job or another date.

And don't allow a rejection to derail your dreams. "One of the greatest impediments to life is the fear of humiliation," says Prof. Brooks, who says he's worked with people who have spent the last 30 years of their lives not taking any risks or challenges because they are afraid of making mistakes.

Finally - it is up to us to decide why, how, and when. You can try, you can fail, you can be humiliated or you can quit. As Henry Ford said - "Whether you think that you can or you can't, you're usually right."

Read the full article at the WSJ.

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