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effort Focus

Relating success to effort rather than innate ability; Viewing intelligence as malleable rather than fixed

You may not realize it, but how you view your own intelligence plays a big part in your success. There are two ways we can think about how smart we are.

First, there is a “growth mindset.” This is the belief that what looks like “intelligence” is really just a product of hard work, practice, and the right guidance. Students who adopt this mindset take a much better approach to their studies.


Other students who have a “fixed mindset” believe that intelligence is a stable trait, given at birth and basically unchanged throughout their life.

It can be easy to look at people with great accomplishments - athletes, musicians, business owners - and assume there is something great about them that you don’t have. Yet, if you read their stories, you will find that hard work is at the core of every success. After all, as a great man once said:

It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.
Albert Einstein

How can I improve my Effort Focus?

Strategies to Use

  • Find someone you respect or admire (a faculty member or advisor is a good place to start). Ask them to tell you the story of how they got to where they are today. Note the times in that story where they mention practice, effort, or guidance they received from others. Note how often they talk about how they were “just good” at something (those will be far fewer).

Resources at Triton College

  • The Academic Success Center (ASC) aims to promote student success through comprehensive support services and programs, including both in-person tutoring at Room A-100 and virtual tutoring via Microsoft Teams.

  • The Academic Advising Department proactively empowers students to reach their educational and career objectives through interactive guidance and support. Advisors assist with course placement, registration, academic planning, and foster essential academic skills like goal-setting and responsible decision-making to ensure student success.

  • Check out the Peer Mentoring Collaborative Program to enhance your understanding of campus resources and get support by a peer mentor. 

Online Resources

  • The Khan Academy offers a great series of lessons, ranging from the way your brain forms to how to adopt a growth mindset. (Note they are labeled as exercises for “high school students,” but the lessons hold no matter how old you are).

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