The Genius Trap

Educational research is clear about one thing. Our mindset has the potential to influence our life in profound ways. In school. In business. In relationships.

One mindset that can, as unintuitive as it may sound, hinder progress tremendously is the “genius” fixed mindset trap.

Here’s the story of one of my clients, and how in one mini- SOULcare coaching session, she was able to notice her mindset trap and break through it:

S- Situation is that Lena’s got big dreams and goals for her marketing firm and it all makes sense in her mind when she imagines it.

However, when she sits down to execute new projects that have HUGE potential to grow her business, she feels stuck and begins procrastinating.

O- Optimal outcome is that she will create and launch her online courses and finish recording a series of videos for her Youtube channel.

U- Underlying barriers: I asked her about the thoughts that float through her mind when she sits down to record the videos and create the course.

I explained that we do not create our all of our thoughts – we have around 70,000 per day and that would simply be impossible.

They are simply ‘there’ just like the clouds in the sky.

She exhaled and explained to me that every time something feels ‘hard’ to her, she experiences resistance, her chest tightens, and she thinks things like: ‘you don’t need to do this! Your business is already so successful’

I asked her if she had been labeled as ‘smart’ or ‘intelligent’ as a child. Her ears perked up and she answered: YES!!!

Here’s what educational research has taught us about children who are labeled as “SMART” and are led to believe that INTELLIGENCE is a FIXED trait, meaning that we cannot grow our intelligence, but rather, we are born with it:

Believing that intelligence is the product of nature, and not nurture, leads children (and adults) to shun challenges.

Counterintuitive, but its true.

Imagine a child who is told that she was born “smart” because she is a great reader.

When she is introduced to Lego Robotics and it looks complicated, she will be far less inclined to try it simply because it challenges her self concept as a ‘smart’ person.

If that same child is taught that there are many different types of capacities and skills which we can hone in our lives and that only curiosity and grit will we be able to do so, she will be much more likely to give that Robotics activity a try.

L- Looking ahead: Lena was thrilled to hear this idea, and we began exploring new ways of thinking about her upcoming projects and new challenges.

We divided up tasks into much smaller parts, paying mind to the necessity that each of these parts have a learning curve.

Since our session, Lena followed up and shared with me that she has made strides forward this week that she was only imagining up until this point.

I’d love to hear what you think about labeling children (and adults) as ‘smart’ or ‘intelligent,’ or if you’ve experienced moments similar to Lena’s.

If you’re looking to break through a mindset trap like Lena did, take your complimentary taste of the SOULcare coaching method.

For reference on this pivotal mindset research in the field of education, see

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