The Biggest Secret
March 24, 2015
Sometimes we can be downright antediluvian in our outlook. I've lost count of the people I've encountered who've remarked, "That's fine for you; I'm just not cut out for that." I used to ask "why?" Realizing it was off-putting, I've laid off in the interest of good accord.
Bulletin: Research is proving the "Hope Factor" is as important as traditional IQ; technically listed instead under "Emotional IQ." Doubting this premise? Consider a major study at Kansas University. Daniel Goleman recounts how incoming freshmen at KU were asked to consider the following premise: Although you set your goal on getting a 'B' in an important course, your first exam score counting as 33% of your final grade, is returned as a 'D.' It is now one week after getting that 'D.' Now what do you do?
Hope was the deciding factor. Students with high levels of hope responded they'd "work harder and think of some things that could bolster their grade." Students with a modest "deserve level" thought of a couple of ways to save their grade while those with low expectations seemed demoralized and gave up on the semester's class outcome.
This was no exercise in theory. When the KU psychologist who did that study compared actual achievement of incoming freshmen he was shocked to see a dramatic and clear pattern emerge. He concluded measuring levels of outlook (hope) was a far better predictive tool than SAT or ACT scores! Those with higher deserve quotients actually tracked as much stronger students and as graduating seniors, the picture was complete. Those same freshmen who had responded with high hope and ingenuity when posed the "D versus B" proposition, graduated with higher grade points and honors, compared with those who expressed marginal or little hope when faced with a setback.
So, given a reasonably comparable range of intelligence, those with higher expectation level fare far better than those without in virtually every endeavor. If you saw Unbroken, the incredible true story of Louis Zamperini captured after 45 days in a lifeboat only to be brutalized in a Japanese prison camp, you saw the ultimate model for optimism, winning over hopeless adversity. Zamperini silently repeated a mantra multiple times a day, handed him by his older brother as he trained for distance running at USC and the 1936 Berlin Olympics: "If I can take it, I can make it." Against daunting odds, Zamperini survived a plane crash at sea, imprisonment and torture.
Optimism and hope, say behaviorists, are the X-factor in one's self determination and success. They play a verifiable role in "emotional intelligence." Today, tomorrow, next week, check your optimism meter, because there ain't no chance if you don't take it. Here's hoping.