Is there a correlation between engaging in challenging tasks and increasing cognitive abilities? Most of us have grown up hearing, “Doing hard things makes you smarter,” but have you ever stopped to consider if it’s true? Does intentionally taking on harder tasks, putting yourself in complex situations or taking on intricate projects result in mastery?
Let’s Make Mistakes
In Daniel Coyle’s book “The Talent Code,” he explores the concept of “deep practice” which is the process of stopping, stumbling, and working through mistakes. Making mistakes forces us to slow down and as Coyle states, “operate at the edge of your ability”. Taking on hard tasks and facing our struggles, therefore leads to stronger performance and the development of new skills – we must permit ourselves to make mistakes so that we may learn and grow from our errors.
Though the concept of deep practice seems straightforward, many of us do not slow down in the face of adversity. We tend towards one extreme or another – seeking to avoid our failures or dissecting our weaknesses under a magnifying glass. In either scenario, we never take the time to engage in deep practice. So, here are three ways you can become smarter by failing:
Clarify Your WHY
Motivation gives us the energy to overcome the uncomfortable and grounds us when we are in a state of failure. Motivation is often found outside of ourselves. By defining your “why” personally and professionally, you can create an external cue to ignite and guide you. Take time to define your why – ask yourself, is it simple and clear, relevant, actionable and will it help you do good towards others?
Confront Your Failure
Focus and attention are critical to achieving mastery in the face of failure. As mentioned, most people do not slow down and thoughtfully work through their mistakes. To confront your failure and become smarter, first reflect on what caused the mistake in the first place. Then, recall your “why” so you can move past negative emotions or any consequences resulting from your failed actions. Finally, identify one to two skills you can practice to correct the error. Remember, becoming smarter results from stopping, stumbling, and working through mistakes – so don’t get discouraged if you find yourself confronting your failure until you see positive results.
According to Coyle, “talent will rarely develop on its own without a teacher, coach or guide.” Hiring a professional coach and inviting them into the process of deep practice will achieve a few things; a coach can serve as secondary motivation point in addition to your “why,” they can offer targeted feedback and serve as accountability when you are tempted to flee in the face of failure. Create a support system by hiring a professional coach to help you see your goals through and achieve mastery.
At Noetic, we are passionate about strengthening brands and the people who build them. Noetic’s coaching services help marketers grow and realize their potential. Are you ready to do hard things and become smarter? Reach out to learn more about our services today.