The stories we create to understand ourselves become the narrative of our lives, explaining the accidents and choices that have brought us to where we are: when I'm good at, what I care about most, and where I'm headed. If you're among the last kid standing on the sidelines as the softball teams are chosen up, the way you understand your place in the world likely changes a little, shaping your sense of ability and the subsequent paths you take. What you tell yourself about your ability plays a part in shaping the ways you learn and perform-how hard you apply yourself, for example, or your tolerance for risk-taking and your willingness to preserve in the face of difficulty.
But differences in skills, and your ability to convert new knowledge into building blocks for further learning, also shape your routes to success. Many of the best managers and coaches in pro sports were mediocre or poor players but happen to be exceptional students of their games.
Each of us has a large basket of resources in the form of aptitudes, prior knowledge, intelligence, interest, and sense of personal empowerment that shape how we learn and how we overcome our shortcomings. Some of these differences matter a lot-for example, our ability to extract underlying principles for new experiences and to convert new knowledge into mental structures.
Peter C. Brown and Henry L. Roediger III, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning