“When kids are convinced of the growth mindset,” he says, “when they are led to believe that they can change who they are, change their intelligence, [and] improve in these significant ways, they actually work harder. They try harder, they apply themselves more and most importantly, they deal with setbacks better.” Even though the research suggests that they cannot get physiologically smarter, believing that they can allows them to persevere and overcome any obstacles they may have to learning.
Tough expands on this idea in his popular keynotes and his bestselling book How Children Succeed. He explains that intelligence isn't the only marker of success. Character traits such as grit, optimism, and self-control are actually better indicators of a child's ability to do well. He explains that nature and nurture are intertwined, and that eliminating unnecessary adversity—without shielding children from all hardship—and encouraging children to work hard can be just as important to their development as their innate intelligence.