Grit: The Ultimate Key to Success?
With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable. ~Thomas Foxwell Buxton
Could it be that talent is overrated? We tend to take for granted that those who seem to be able to “naturally” do things so much better than the rest of us – play music, paint, play golf, etc. – succeed as a result of their genetic gift. But research indicates there’s much more to it. In fact, if you read the stories of most of the “naturally” talented people in history, they pretty much all have one thing in common. They not only practiced to develop their talent, they practiced deliberately and with fierce determination.
In other words, as nice as it may be to be born with a particular talent, to make the most of that gift – to actually succeed – takes deliberate effort. The question that begs to be answered then is why are some people so much more willing to make the effort – and what factors influence just how hard they are willing to work?
According to Angela Lee Duckworth in her short but captivating TEDx Talk the answer is grit.
Someone who has “grit” is said to have a passion for long-term goals, does not require immediate positive feedback, and is able to maintain their determination and motivation over long periods – despite experiences with failure and adversity. Essentially, the person with grit is focused on winning the marathon, not the sprint.
At the University of Pennsylvania, Angela Lee Duckworth studies intangible concepts such as self-control and grit to determine how they might predict both academic and professional success. Here, she explains her theory of “grit” as a predictor of success.
Like anything else, some people will naturally be more inclined toward having “grit” than others, but anyone can learn to cultivate and strengthen grit and here are a few tips to get started.
You cultivate grit when you …
- Learn to view adversity as opportunities for growth.
- Commit to finish whatever you start.
- Strengthen your resiliency skills.
- Avoid shiny object syndrome and jumping from one project or goal to another.
- Learn to think of life is more of a marathon than a sprint.
- Strengthen your ability to focus, especially on long-term projects or goals.
- Build confidence in your decision making skills.
- Commit to achieve a major life goal, accepting it will take years to succeed.
If you’re interested in learning more about grit and ways in which to develop talents and skills, I’ve added 3 of my favorite books on the subject to the Amazon slide show in the right hand sidebar. I’ve read each and feel confident to recommend them.
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