If you don’t have it, you can learn it

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression in some form or another that boils down to: “You either have it or you don’t.”

I completely disagree with this.

It’s too reductive, too reliant on talent and innate ability. It’s a fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset and can be incredibly limiting.

I try – key word here “try” – to operate in a growth mindset. It’s not always easy because there are a lot of invisible scripts that hold me back and I have to identify them, and figure out how to rewrite the stories I tell myself.

There are definitely days where learning something new – trying a new skill, trying to improve – really sucks. I wonder if I’ll ever touch my toes or do the splits. I wonder if I could ever run fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon, or if it’s just not in my genes and if I should play to my strengths and go for ultras instead since I’m good at pacing myself.

But I much prefer the growth mindset. I like trying new things and learning new skills and improving the skills I already have. I like the idea of doing insane things I hadn’t done before. I grew up a non-athlete, but I ran 2 marathons last year and plan to run more.

I let expressions like that hold me back when I was first in college and burned out pretty easily as a result. I never knew if I “had it” or not, and would hang on teacher’s praise as evidence of my innate ability or talent.

But I know now that it’s not entirely true – that’s not the whole story.

I have to keep going – I have to keep learning – I have to find new ways to keep trying and reward myself every time so I’m willing to keep moving forward.

So, I propose a new variation on that expression: “If you don’t have it, you can learn it.”

2 comments

  1. I love this! I’m also all about trying new things, even if I fail at first. I love discovering that I’m good at something that previously terrified me or seemed too scary to do. I think my downfall is that I try too many new things at once!

    Liked by 1 person

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