When I was visiting with community college students in Arizona, one young man said to me, “I’m one of the people who’s not good at math.” It kills me when I hear that kind of thing. I think about how different things might have been if he had been told consistently “you’re very capable of learning this stuff.”

In contrast, people with the growth mindset believe that basic qualities, including intelligence, can be strengthened like muscles. It’s not that they believe that anyone can become the next Albert Einstein or Michael Jordan if they just work hard enough on their physics homework or fadeaway jumpers.