Learning Learned Helplessness

By Anupum Pant

Achieving things that seem totally out of reach, the very things that seem impossible, can actually be accomplished if you learn to get around the state of mind that is called learned helplessness.

Timothy Ferris, the author of 4-hour work week tells a story when he visited Princeton. He challenged the students with something that seemed impossible. The goal of this seemingly arduous task was to make them move out of their comfort zones. So, he offered them a roundtrip ticket to anywhere in the world, but didn’t tell them what the challenge was. They had to come meet him after the lecture. A third of the students came.

This was what they were asked to do. He wanted them to contact J Lo., Warren Buffett, Bill Clinton, J.D. Salinger and get a reply from at least one of them. No one even tried. Clearly, it did not look like a task that an average person could complete.

He did this again the next year and also told the students about what had happened last year. And after hearing the story of faliure of last year students, among the 17 guys, 6 finished the challenge in 48 hours.

The students last year had learned helplessness. And the people who came over this psychological hurdle accomplished a seemingly impossible task with flying colours.

Just knowing about this effect is enough to change the way you look at your life and opportunities. One great way to take away for the people who come here every day to read things.

It always seems impossible until it’s done. – Nelson Mandela

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