Are We Born into Greatness or Grown into It?

I’ve talked about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and its impact on creativity before. It’s a powerful model that changed the field of psychology. The needs at the bottom have to be met before the needs above it become relevant and accessible.

Patrick Lencioni’s model for 5 Dysfunctions of a team is very similar. Once again, the issues at the bottom of the pyramid have to met first.

In my opinion, the fact that these models have a certain order isn’t their most powerful attribute. I believe what makes these models profound is their assertion that people can grow into greatness. This is also the core of Stanford researcher Carol Dweck’s research on the mindset of learners.

In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.

—Carol Dweck, Stanford University

On the surface, this can seem simple and obvious, yet we label people–including ourselves–in “fixed” terms.

  • Smart vs Stupid
  • Creative vs Uncreative
  • Organized vs Sloppy
  • Entrepreneurial vs Predictable
  • Charismatic vs Dull
  • Successful vs Unsuccessful

If we understand this, then we stop seeing attributes as an either-or proposition…

… and we start to see everything as building blocks instead. Life becomes more than simply dealing with the hand you were dealt.
It becomes a series of steps toward our desired outcomes.

  • What attributes have you “assigned” to yourself and accepted as a label?
  • What qualities do you admire in others and not see in yourself?
  • If you see yourself as being on a lower level of that attribute, what would be the next level up?
  • What habits can you add to your life that would help you progress in this area?

Dustin Staiger is a business and marketing coach in Houston, TX. He addresses team and individual effectiveness, marketing, communications and creativity for smaller, entrepreneurial organizations as well as large enterprises.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Are We Born into Greatness or Grown into It?

  1. This is such a great exercise, Dustin…for so many areas of life. I’m thinking I may take my team (and maybe my family!) through these questions. Thanks!