Why some students DON’T improve for years and how to avoid it.

Hi there!

Today I want to talk about something that happens to a lot of students we have seen over the years, and who have very little results to show for it.


Because we don’t want this to happen to you.

And if you are a millennial, and are around your 30s or younger, then this concerns to you.

I am not kidding.

If you are younger than 40, do read this post to completion, because it can save years of frustration in the future.

I have seen many students practice and practice for months and months and they don’t improve. The sad part of the story is that they think they are already great at drawing or animation, when in reality, their work sucks.

Or, when they start trying to make money, nobody buys their service because, nobody really likes it and nobody is telling them why.

Either scenario is a heart-break experience, and this can easily be avoided when you learn HOW TO IMPROVE, and not to think you are improving.

If you enrolled to the 30-Day Challenge, then you know this is the Dunning Kruger Effect, so I won’t get into much detail to it.

In either case, here is a summary from a great TED-Ed video created by the authors:

Now that you understand what the Dunning Kruger Effect is, I want to discuss

  • How this happens,
  • Why this happens, and
  • How to avoid it.


The worst thing that can happen to you is being convinced that you are awesome, and later have your heart broken when you find out that nobody really likes your work.

It has to do with the “Self-esteem Culture” born in the 90s, that was spread all over America.

“You are a superstar, no matter who you are or where you come from; and you were born that way!” -Lady Gaga

The belief at that time was that, if you had high self-esteem, you could become successful.

This was because some psychologists saw the correlation between student’s grades and their self-esteem.

Students with high-grades had high self-esteem, and students with low grades had low self-esteem.

So the question was:

Do the students get high grades and then they have high self-esteem?

Or, could it be that maybe, they had high self-esteem and THEN they got high grades because of it?

Well, this became a trend, and so, parents started telling little kids how good they were, and how amazing was anything they did.

That is also why, to this date, in a lot of schools in the United States, they give trophies to every competitor just for participating.

When I saw a picture of my nephew getting 4th place for swimming in school, I felt so proud!

But then my sister told me that actually, everyone else got a 4th place.



1st place for the real winner, then 2nd place, then 3rd place, and finally, 4th place to everybody else, just so they don’t get sad and develop low self-esteem.

This was in 2014!


What is the result of this self-esteem movement?

That mediocrity is rewarded.

So, you basically don’t have to put any effort, focus or struggle to improve, you just have to be unique.

Ah, yes! Unique.

How easy is to be unique!

All you have to do is, become super arrogant and argue that if they don’t like your art, is just because they don’t appreciate your uniqueness, and so, you don’t really need to improve at all.

"There is no need to master the rules, you can just do whatever you want, because you just need to be unique!"

That is so easy to be, right? Some argue that being unique is very hard, but there is a lot of evidence to the contrary.

For the great masters in history, Leonardo DaVinci, Mozart, Einstein, Picasso, the way it works is:

"First you master the rules, and then you break them."

Picasso is a great example of this.

His early paintings include the First Communion in 1896, a realistic painting proving he could master the technique, and then on subsequent years, he started developing his own style, but only after mastering the rules first.

That was years ago, now, you don’t really have to master anything. You can just argue that you are unique, and that you don’t need to put any effort into it.

What a terrible reality, right? No wonder why we (the millennials and generation Z) are considered the “entitled brats”.

Let’s check what science thinks about this. These are facts.

This is from study by Donald Forsyth in his psychology class at the Virginia Commonwealth University.

Image by Jeff Auth

He also observed that students with high self-esteem had good grades. And students with low self-esteem had bad grades.

And decided to put the self-esteem movement to the test. Instead of taking it as a fact, he decided to test it.

He randomly assigned C-grade students or worse into 2 groups.

The first group would receive messages boosting their self-esteem once a week. And the second group will get neutral messages.

The hypothesis then was that the students getting a boost in self-esteem would get better grades, right?

Yes! Because according to the self-esteem movement, students with high self-esteem get better grades.

Well, what he found was very intriguing.

Students from the second group didn’t have any change.

But the students from the 1st group, not only did they not improve, but they actually got worse!

Their scores dropped from 59 to 39.

From bad to becoming a real tragedy.

But do you want to know what was worse? The students were not only getting worse scores, but they actually became arrogant mediocre people!

The worst combination!

Arrogant and mediocre? Are you kidding me?

So, don’t let this happen to you.


The purpose of this post is to warn you about this. I have seen it in younger students.

They deliver their work and feel offended when I tell them that they can improve it.

They were expecting congratulations from me, but I am not here to boost their self-esteem, I am here to help them grow.

And I really hope this is not you.

The best thing you can do is:

"Embrace reality and deal with it"

Something that Ray Dalio, the self-made billionaire teaches in his book, Principles.

If you really want to avoid this, you just need to understand that talent and skill comes first, and from there you develop REAL AND SOLID Self-Esteem (not just pipe-dreams).

In conclusion:

When you develop self-esteem BEFORE developing your skills, you become arrogant and mediocre.

When you develop skill BEFORE developing your self-esteem, you become a better version of yourself.

Aim for a high-self esteem that is founded on real skill, real talent, and not in illusory perceptions of yourself.

That way you will develop a REAL SOLID HIGH-SELF ESTEEM based on evidence and real talent.