Success Is Rooted In the Will, Not the Skill: Trinity Students Overvalue Given Talent and Undermine Hard Work


Caroline Avery, Staff Writer

   From as early as elementary school, students single out peers who seem to stand out academically: “the smart kids.” These “smart kids” are all praised for supposedly having been blessed with a genius gene, something the rest of us merely missed out on. While there certainly exists a percentage of students with genius in their blood, this is the exception rather than the rule.         However, as students move from Recess to LMS to Calculus and academic pressures rise, some begin to lean on the idea that academic success must not be in their cards.

   “We could do the exact same activity the exact same way, and they would still somehow do it better,” senior Josh Dietrich said.

   Watching high-achieving students constantly score higher and win the annual class awards reinforces the preconceived notion that they must all have been born as natural geniuses. However, these high-achieving students say otherwise.  

   “For me, I’m successful not because I was born with natural ability, but because I put my mind to it and I work as hard as possible to get the grades I want,” senior Akua Adede Appah-Sampong said.

   Society prefers to take the easy road in assuming that mere talent gives rise to victory. This notion takes the weight off students by assuming they are out of control of their own success. However, plenty of success stories prove otherwise. Oprah Winfrey, the billion dollar talk-show host, was once told that she “wasn’t fit for television,” and Michael Jordan, the all-time basketball legend, was once cut from his high school team.

   Despite the fact that it obviously helps to have a 150 IQ score, IQ is not what determines success. Instead, it’s the elbow grease put in behind the scenes.

   “For tests, I’ll spend hours working to make sure I understand the material, and if I don’t, then I’ll ask help from a friend or a teacher.” senior Mathew Castro said.

   Despite this, instead of noticing the hard work put in for impressive results, our society tends to glorify academically successful students as being superhumans born with magical abilities the rest of us lack.

   “They could sneeze on something, and it would be perfect” senior Grace Parker said.

   This notion advances the idea that success is given rather than won. Nonetheless, Appah-Sampong says that she stays up as late as she needs to get the job done and done well and Castro discloses that he has spent up to seven hours in one day studying for a test.  However, the hard work put in for this success is often overshadowed by the success itself or discounted as a whole.

   “I think that super academic kids can sometimes lie about how hard they work,” senior Chase Nelson said.

   Students become accustomed to the idea that their award-winning peers succeed exclusively due to their naturally born talent, and thus are kept in the dark to the reality.

   Stanford Professor of Psychology, Dr. Carol Dweck, has spent decades studying people’s mindsets toward learning and has come to the conclusion that there are two types of mindsets: fixed and growth. People with fixed mindsets view ability as being determined by genes and is therefore unchangeable. People with growth mindsets, on the other hand, view ability as malleable and able to be developed through perseverance and hard work. In the end, those with the growth mindsets performed better on evaluations measuring potential success. Accordingly, as high achievers are quickly learning from their failures, other students are getting caught up in the false reality that theirs stem from stupidity.

   Altogether, we are brought to the idea that academic success is rarely a result of born genius ability, but instead rooted in the work put in behind closed doors. As Albert Einstein says,     “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” and we must begin to put a greater accountability on that 99% than the meager 1%.