Invisible Barriers / by Krista Boivie

In the July 2007 edition of the Harvard Business Review there is an excellent article on  "The Making of an Expert." Countless research indicates that experts are made, not born--however, there is a cultural belief within the U.S. that some people are born with innate gifts that make them superior.

The development of genuine expertise requires struggle, sacrifice, and honest, often painful self-assessment. There are no shortcuts...by engaging in “deliberate” practice—practice that focuses on tasks beyond your current level of competence and comfort. You will need a well-informed coach not only to guide you through deliberate practice but also to help you learn how to coach yourself.

I sometimes think it would be nice just to be born amazing at something, but the truth is that we have to work hard, really hard to accomplish our goals. 

I have been struggling to finish some projects because I feel like I don't have the skill level to make them excellent.  These invisible barriers help feed my procrastination and allow me to make excuses about why I am not getting my work completed.  In reality my only problem is me. I would love a coach/peer who would help push me through the hard patches--but in essence--I will just need to do it for myself.

Yesterday I was talking to a student and she was telling me that although she was taking AP this year, she would never take another AP class. Like me, she has invisible barriers that have convinced her that she is not innately gifted enough to really be successful.  

I told her that the reason why I became a teacher was to be the kind of teacher I felt I never had.  What I mean by that is--I had lots of really good teachers, but I never felt like I had a teacher that eally pushed me to be excellent. I was a smart, but lazy student, and without a great teacher to really force me to be better I only went as far as my invisibe barrier. I hope that this year I can help her see the amazing potential that she has and to give her the confidence to trust her abilities.

How do you break through your invisible barriers?