CAE Reading and Use of English Part 5
You are going to read a magazine article about success and how to attain it. For questions 31-36, choose the answer (A, B, C or D) which you think fits best according to the text.
Secret to Success
Most of us have been on the receiving end of an inspirational speech. Usually it is delivered by a former Olympian at a company conference and is all about the big M: motivation. It is sometimes eloquently delivered and often fun to listen to but most people leave the room wondering how thirty minutes of biographical information about a rowing champion is going to help them back in the office. Nobody would dispute that motivation is a key driver of performance but this knowledge does not help many of us understand where it comes from. Listening to a sportsperson speaking about their own personal journey may be uplifting but how is it going to leave a lasting and usable legacy in terms of how you approach your job? It is almost insulting to think it could.
It is not anecdotes we need, so much as a science of performance, underlying principles that help unlock the question of why some people work hard and excel while others don’t; why some are committed to what they are doing while others exist in a state of semi-detachment. It is a question with ramifications not just for business but for education. And, fortunately, the answers are beginning to emerge. To see how, we need to take a step back and ask a deeper question: where does excellence come from?
For a long time, it was thought that the answer hinged, in large part, upon talent. Hard work may be important but if you don’t have the ability, you are never going to become top class. It is the notion that high-level performers have excellence encoded in their DNA.
It turns out that this point of view is mistaken. Dozens of studies have found that high-flyers across all disciplines learn no faster than those who reach lower levels of attainment – hour after hour, they improve at almost identical rates. The difference is simply that high achievers practise for more hours. Further research has shown that when students seem to possess a particular gift, it is often because they have been given extra tuition at home.
The question of talent versus practice/experience would not matter much if it was merely theoretical. But it is much more than that. It influences the way we think and feel, and the way we engage with our world. And it determines our motivation. To see how, consider an employee who believes success is all about talent – this is known as the ‘fixed mindset’. Why would they bother to work hard? If they have the right genes, won’t they just cruise to the top? And if they lack talent, well, why bother at all? And who can blame someone for having this kind of attitude, given the underlying premise? If, on the other hand, they really believe that practice trumps talent — the ‘growth mindset’ — they will persevere. They will see failure as an opportunity to adapt and grow. And if they are right, they will eventually excel. What we decide about the nature of talent, then, could scarcely be more important.
So, how to create a growth mindset within an organisation? Interventions which have presented participants with the powerful evidence of how excellence derived from perseverance – which explains the possibility of personal transformation – have had a dramatic impact on motivation and performance. When this is allied with clearly identifiable pathways from shop floor to top floor, so that employees can see the route ahead, these results are strengthened further.
Businesses that focus on recruiting external ‘talent’ with ‘the right stuff’ on the other hand, and who neglect the cultivation of existing personnel, foster the fixed mindset. A rank-and-yank appraisal system is also damaging because it suggests that the abilities of those ranked the lowest cannot be developed. In short, an ethos constructed upon the potential for personal transformation is the underlying psychological principle driving high performance. It is an insight that is not merely deeply relevant to business but to any organisation interested in unlocking human potential.
32 The writer believes we should learn more about
the factors behind motivation.
the ways people’s commitment to tasks can be developed.
the importance of workers’ different principles.
the similarities between practices in business and education.
35 According to the writer, employers need to
encourage ambition in their employees.
ensure employees know their place in a company.
record the development of each employee.
reward good performance of their employees.
36 The writer uses the phrase оf rank-and-yank appraisal system to refer to
insufficient investment in personal development.
promotion that is too rapid.
an acceptance of poor performers at high levels.
changing the recruiting strategy of a company.