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Effort Shock: Getting Past the Idea of Overnight Success+ #68

+Upcoming Events

“Anything worth achieving in life has a dip.” -Seth Godin, Author, Entrepreneur and Teacher

Hi, this is the GenWise team– we bring out this newsletter to help parents and educators to complement the work of formal schools and associated systems. We can help our children thrive in these complex times only by exchanging ideas and insights and working together. 

We are also a founder-member of the Gifted India Network– if you are interested in issues related to gifted education and talent development, an easy way to keep updated about talks, programs and resources is to join the Gifted India Network telegram channel ( Register for the next upcoming session here (more details in the Upcoming Events section).

Schools- check out information about the Bebras India Computational Thinking Challenge in the Upcoming Events section.

This week we feature GenWise mentor, Navin Kabra’s post, How to become an expert the hard way, from his substack blog, FutureIQ. This post has wide applicability to people at all stages of life, whether young students or professionals at different stages of their careers.

How to Become an Expert the Hard Way

In my last article, I talked about “The Dip”—the difficult, depressing period you encounter when doing anything substantial—and how everyone should know about this important concept. Today, I want to talk about two additional aspects related to it that people miss:

Applicability: The dip shows up in many areas of your life

Effort: The effort needed to get past the dip is far more than most people realize. A common mistake people make when they’re in the dip is to think that they lack the talent or inborn abilities to succeed. But usually talented people seem talented because they put in far more effort during the dip than you would imagine

The Dip is everywhere

A number of people responded to the last article citing other areas where this concept applies. For example, angel investor Krishna points out that it applies to startups:

Dr Bhooshan Shukla pointed out that the problem of “giving up too easily” and thus flitting from one half-finished project to another is worse for people with ADHD. (And yes, adults can also have ADHD, and a diagnosis+treatment can change their life):

Thanks for writing this post. As psychiatrist, I meet several young people with this difficulty(including the man in the mirror). It is worth taking Adult ADHD test and discussing with own parents if "need for constant stimulation" was a childhood trait. Help is available. — Bhooshan Shukla (@docbhooshan) December 22, 2021

Utkarsh pointed to this different graph for the dip which captures the journey in more detail and suggests that this happens when creating anything great:

Same concept has been presented in many ways. I’m sure there is a Paul Graham post on this topic too. Very valuable advice though. — Utkarsh Sengar (@utsengar) December 22, 2021

Meeta pointed out that it applies in relationships too. Many marriages go through a rough patch during years 6 to 10. The plot of most romance movies follows this same emotional journey. I could argue that the classic structure of most stories (setup-conflict-resolution) also embodies this same curve.

Speaking of movies and stories in media, reader Mrunalini commented on how, as a culture, we try to ignore the dip and focus too much on the final result:

We live in the era where only a final reward is celebrated. To reach a goal, there are various dips a person goes through, but the person is recognised for goal achieving and that specific moment

This is something that even The Gita tries to dissuade us from.

Effort Shock

We mostly celebrate success and the stories that make the biggest impressions are the “overnight success” stories. We manage to gloss over the fact that most “overnight success” actually involves 10+ years of struggle.

Of course, many media stories do mention the struggle before the success. But in those stories, the dip gets over in two paragraphs (or half an hour if it’s a movie). They never really manage to convey how long and gloomy the dip is in real life.

These stories about the struggle before success are possibly making things worse, according to David Wong who wrote How “The Karate Kid” Ruined The Modern World:

I think The Karate Kid ruined the modern world. Not just that movie, but all of the movies like it (you certainly can’t let the Rocky sequels escape blame). Basically any movie with a training montage. You know what I’m talking about; the main character is very bad at something, then there is a sequence in the middle of the film set to upbeat music that shows him practicing. When it’s done, he’s an expert.

You have seen this sequence (the “training montage”) in many movies. For a recent example, see the “Haanikarak Bapu” song from Dangal.

No matter how many movies you’ve seen about the struggle, the actual effort required to succeed in any endeavour always comes as a shock to people. So much so that there is a name for this: “Effort Shock

Do remember though, if you’re able to overcome the Effort Shock then the resultant rewards you get are also significantly higher than what you imagine. @vgr calls this Reward Shock. Outsized efforts do result in outsized rewards. This is the way.

The important takeaway from this isn’t “this is too hard”. Rather, I want you to think “all that’s required is effort (which I can put in, as opposed to innate ability which is not under my control).” Sure, there is a small probability that you don’t have the innate ability that is required. For example, you are unlikely to be a basketball star if you’re 5’3” (but even that has an exception). But chances are far higher that you’re just giving up too early because you didn’t realize how much effort is needed to get through the dip.

How do you know when to work hard and when to give up? Reader Shamik suggested using Optimal Stopping Theory. For example, if you’re going to spend 2 years looking for a partner in an arranged marriage situation, then the solution to the Secretary Problem suggests that you should reject everyone you meet in the first 9 months (the first 1/e fraction or 37% of the total) and after that select the first person who’s better than everyone you met in the first 9 months. That always seemed a bit artificial to me, but Shamik feels it is applicable in real life:

Have you faced the dip in your life? Did you successfully overcome it? What helped you during that time? Do you have any examples of effort shock or reward shock from your life? Please leave a comment below the original post. because your example might change some youngster’s life.

Upcoming Events

The Journey from Aptitude to Achievement; Fri, Oct 28, 6 PM- 730 PM (Online, Open to all)

In this session, Dr. Itishree Mishra, an Applied Psychologist, will be in conversation with GenWise co-founder, Vishnu Agnihotri about the role of aptitude, personality, interests and opportunity, in being able to perform well in a particular field or career.

Dr. Itishree Misra holds a Phd in Applied psychology. She has an outstanding academic record in Psychology and was awarded the Gold Medal by Delhi University for her Post-Graduate degree. She has been a pioneer in developing various psychometric tests and tools to help students to select careers, in the Indian context.  She has conducted career counselling for more than 1 lakh students in various schools, pan-India. She has also worked for industry on developing assessments used for recruitment, talent development and to screen entrepreneurs. Dr. Itishree has also worked on various research projects funded by UNDP, University Grant Commission, NCERT and Ministry of Welfare of Indian Government.

For more details about the session and to register, click here.

Bebras India Computational Thinking Challenge, 14th-30th November, 2022, Registration Information for Schools

The Bebras India Challenge 2022 will have schools participating from 20 states in India and provides an opportunity forstudents  to learn about computational thinking and problem solving skills. 

Registration is free and open for age groups 8-18, classes 3rd to 12th. Bebras ( is an international student Computational Thinking Challenge organised in over 70 countries and designed to get students all over the world excited about computing. The challenge is a great way to learn about computational thinking and problem solving skills. In 2021, 4 million students took the challenge across 70 countries worldwide. Bebras India Computational Thinking Challenge ( is organised by ACM India’s CSpathshala ( initiative. The Bebras challenges are made of a set of short problems called Bebras tasks. The tasks are fun, engaging and based on problems that Computer Scientists enjoy solving. The tasks require logical thinking and can be solved without prior knowledge of computational thinking. The aim is to solve as many as you can in the allotted time. 

Registration: Register school on:

After registration, upload your student information using your school login link. 

In English the Challenge will be open for age groups 8-18, classes 3rd to 12th and  in regional languages

Classes 3rd to 8th in Gujarati, Marathi and Tamil

Classes 5th to 10th in Hindi 

Classes 5th to 8th in Kannada  and Odia

Classes 5th to 10th in Telugu

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Bebras at   

Gifted Winter Program (Gr. 6-10)- Dec 18-30

The Gifted Winter Program is GenWise’s third residential program in calendar year 2022 and is in collaboration with Ei-ASSET Talent Search (Ei- ATS) .

The program is from Dec 18-30, 2021 and is jointly hosted by Vidyashilp University and the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence in Bengaluru for children currently in Grades 6-10. Students will reside at India’s most modern sportsplex, the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence (CSE). Classes will be held at the brand new facilities of Vidyashilp University.

The program is exclusively for gifted students who are Gold/ Silver/ Bronze Scholars on Ei-ASSET Talent Search (Ei- ATS). If you do not have an ATS score, but are interested in the program, please contact us with your ASSET scores. If you haven’t taken ASSET recently, you can take it here.

Details of the upcoming programs are shared below. You can also reach the GenWise team by sending a Whatsapp message or calling the below numbers.

Eklavya- 7046466866

Sapna- 9821112090

​All students in the senior track will go through 2 academic enrichment modules-

Introduction to Bio-Inspired Soft Robotics

Being a Digital Native in the 21st Century

All students in the junior track will go through 3 academic enrichment modules-

Think like a Scientist

Heroes and Villains

Viewing Current Society through a Literary Lens

Detailed module descriptions, mentor profiles and more available here.


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