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Grit: The Ultimate Key to Success?

2013 May 10

With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable. ~Thomas Foxwell Buxton

Grit for the long haulCould 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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20 Responses
  1. June 7, 2013

    Hi Marty, Great article on GRIT! I Love your bullet points!! All True!! I had this shiny object syndrome and I couldn’t stay focused on what I really wanted to do therefore I was jumping from one project to another.

    I am so Grateful to have finally found my calling and have committed myself to supporting others. I do not want anyone to follow in my footsteps. YIKES!! Thanks for sharing Chery :)
    Chery Schmidt recently posted..Helping People Find Their WayMy Profile

    • June 12, 2013

      Hey Chery, sorry for the delay in responding to your comment. Afraid I’m having to play a little catch up this week. So glad you enjoyed the article! Just one of the things I love about you and your blog is how willing you are to share both the highs and lows of your journey. Thanks for your inspiration!
      Marquita Herald recently posted..Cultivate Courage to Defeat Your FearsMy Profile

  2. May 27, 2013

    Being determined to get success is the most important thing. You have to work hard and go beyond your expertise to get something. Luck has some importance but your success doesn’t depend on your Luck. Luck can be changed with your efforts and dedications.

    Daniel Robert recently posted..Benefits of Installing Brick PaversMy Profile

  3. May 20, 2013

    If you have talent plus hard work, no one or nothing can stand in your way. Just trust in God and do your best all the time. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
    Stacey recently posted..Light My FireMy Profile

  4. Emilia from seo jaipur permalink
    May 20, 2013

    Not that talent is overrated. I guess it’s just that we can now learn how to acquire some talents through workshops. However, we just cannot shake off the idea that talent is indeed the best push for a person.
    Emilia recently posted..The Most Important SEO Trends to Follow in 2013My Profile

  5. May 14, 2013

    In fact that will depend on your understanding of luck. If you understood these concepts well you will realize that the problem isn’t in the question but its in the understanding of luck itself. Luck is important, but at some extent.
    Angelina recently posted..Anti Aging Foods: What To Eat For Maintaining A Younger Look?My Profile

  6. May 13, 2013

    Truthfully, no one can stop or stand in the way of talented people. I believe talented people can go beyond conventional boundaries and there is no special role of so called LUCK. It’s a modern world and a perfect place for those who can fit themselves accordingly.

  7. May 13, 2013

    Wow, having talent is useless without consistent and persistent motivation to share that talent. It is sad to think that some are blessed yet don’t make the effort.

    In some way on another, we are all blessed with some sort of talent. Maybe you are to share with a small crowd, maybe to the whole world. It doesn’t really matter as long as your talents are expressed to those in need.

    Thanks, Marty. Interesting topic to ponder.

    Rick Lelchuk recently posted..Doing the Right Thing: IntegrityMy Profile

  8. May 12, 2013

    I can totally relate to grit! I’ve seen it so many times in my own life when perseverance is key and the journey is a marathon. Thanks for the great post!
    Dayna Camp recently posted..Best Mother’s Day Videos – And Don’t Name your Kid Phone!My Profile

    • May 13, 2013

      Welcome Dayna, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the article! I must admit I can also relate to the notion of grit making such a major difference. For one thing it sounds so much better than being just plain stubborn and refusing to give up, which appears to be a natural state for me. :-)
      Marquita Herald recently posted..Grit: The Ultimate Key to Success?My Profile

  9. May 12, 2013

    Another cracking read to load onto the Kindle to digest :)
    I love the idea that grit has qualities that can be modeled and emulated to the advantage of the user, and your bullet points indicate that we all have more grit than we actually think. thanks for sharing this Marty :)
    Sarah Arrow recently posted..72 Places to promote your Kindle book when it’s freeMy Profile

  10. May 12, 2013

    Hi Marty,

    This was a very interesting post. I’ve often thought about this idea that some people are just born naturally talented and indeed they might be. However, as you quite rightly pointed out, even such people need to make effort to make the most of talents.

    Sometimes, I get concerned of messages that we hear about a person who is naturally born with a talent, because I think there are people out there who might be put off doing what they want to, because of this ‘belief’ that they weren’t born with the ability to do so.

    Indeed, as you stated, grit is something we all have. If we want something bad enough then we can learn to develop this grit as you stated in your post. Anything is possible.

    Thank you.
    Hiten recently posted..Negative Thoughts – How to Change ThemMy Profile

    • May 13, 2013

      Welcome back Hiten, and thank you so much for sharing your thoughtful insight on the topic of grit. Always appreciated! By the way, thoroughly enjoyed your article on changing negative thoughts. :-)
      Marquita Herald recently posted..Grit: The Ultimate Key to Success?My Profile

  11. May 11, 2013

    I believe that luck does not play a too important role in you success, instead it’s like the articles says… it’s how determined you are. Thanks for the great post.

    • May 13, 2013

      Welcome Gabrielle, and thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I have to admit, when it comes to luck, I tend to agree with Oprah when she says luck is about doing all the hard work first to be ready when you meet opportunity.
      Marquita Herald recently posted..Grit: The Ultimate Key to Success?My Profile

  12. May 11, 2013

    I totally agree that the successful talented people did not make it to fame just because they are born with it. Successful talented people are those that strive hard and trained hard before they reach success.
    Connor Harley recently posted..Business to Business Marketing StrategiesMy Profile

    • May 13, 2013

      Welcome back Connor, so glad you liked the article and appreciate you taking the time to contribute to the conversation. I agree with your observation – I couldn’t help but think of people like Tiger Woods, someone who does have a natural talent for golf, but who also worked tirelessly his whole life to perfect that talent. It’s so easy to overlook the “work” part of the success equation.
      Marquita Herald recently posted..Grit: The Ultimate Key to Success?My Profile

  13. May 10, 2013

    The world is full of talented people being unsuccessful or who haven’t found a way to find success through their talent. And sometimes a gift can be useless as non all talents are equal.

    Many average people arrive where they want to be even if not being a Mozart-like person but through consistency and continued, focalized efforts.

    Talent makes a difference especially regarding the time needed to achieve a particular result but practice makes perfectionwith grit and flexibility.
    Andrea H. recently posted..Be an Influencer: Is it What you Really Want?My Profile

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