Book worth reading: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.
Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckaworth.
“Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another.”
When I was growing up in Otaki there were kids who seemed smart, and then were kids who didn’t. I always assumed the kids who were smart would be the ones who ‘did well’ in life-after-school (based on my totally incorrect thoughts on what ‘doing well’ in life meant back then – BMWs, houses like they had out Paraparaumu beach, not going to jail – OK I was mostly right with that one).
But fast forward twenty-five years (whoa), and that’s not how things played out – what’s the gap between smarts and success-on-field?
That’s kind of what Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit, is about. She talks through her studies as a teacher and then as a clinical psychologist investigating the question of why IQ wasn’t the only deciding factor in whether a kid performed well at school or didn’t. She studied rough-neighbourhood schools, military elites like Westpoint cadets and Green Berets, teachers and sales reps.
From the survey, she developed a Grit Scale and assessed people against this then tracked their success across mulitple fields. She found how they performed on the Grit Scale predicted their success more than most other metrics. For example, she surveyed drop outs at West Point military school’s ‘Beast Barracks’. One in five cadets drop out after their first year, Grit predicted who would and who wouldn’t. Other tests like IQ, aptitude, and even West Point’s complicated ‘whole candidate score’, didn’t.
Cool, so what did she find? You can probably guess by the name of the book – but:
Grit is Perseverance and passion for long term goals.
Through her studies, Angela discovered two major traits of successful people. They were resilient enough to keep working on the things they chose, even when they weren’t successful and when things weren’t going well. And they had direction. She calls passion a compass which moves you to where you want to be. Passion and Perseverance.
Effort counts twice.
Talent is how quickly you can learn a skill. A lot of that is influenced by what you’re born with, or grow naturally thanks to the parents who had you surfing from the age of two, or painting Picasso finger paintings once you were old enough to stop eating the blue paint.
Skill is what happens when you apply effort to that talent. When you practice and put in the work.
Achievement is what happens when you apply effort and put those developed skills into action.
So, effort counts twice.
Talent X Effort = Skill
Effort X Skill = Achievement
Enthusiasm is common, endurance is rare.
What does a person look like when they’re Gritty? (It’s got nothing to do with stone or sand).
Interested and passionate
“…interests are not discovered through introspection. Instead, interests are triggered by interactions with the outside world. The process of interest discovery can be messy, serendipitous, and inefficient.”
“Well okay, that didn’t go so well, but I guess I will just carry on. ”
They believe that their work serves a purpose. This is why the goal hierarchy below is important.
“At its core, the idea of purpose is the idea that what we do matters to people other than ourselves.”
Capacity to practice
“Without effort, your skill is nothing more than what you could have done but didn’t,”
Distracted by talent. Aren’t we all talented enough?
“When we over emphasise talent, we under-emphasise everything else.”
“Mythologising natural talent lets all of us off the hook. It lets us relax into the status quo.”
Hierarchy of Goals
“The high-level goals are written in ink, lower level in pencil.”
Can you become more Gritty?
On a personal note, I really enjoyed this book because it felt familiar. As a young Maori dude starting off in a corporate environment I always (rightly or wrongly) felt less intelligent than the other brains in the room. The feeling grew the more I progressed in my career. So I’ve always felt I’ve had to work harder since I couldn’t work smarter. Having said that, I’m starting to think everyone might believe this about themselves – unless you’re a raging egomaniac convinced of your own intelligence.