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Do You Have the Success Gene?
If you’ve ever been told you won’t succeed because you lack talent, bring a copy of “Grit” to your next meeting. While teaching high school math, author Angela Duckworth noticed some of her highest-achieving students weren’t the ones with the highest IQs, while some of her “smartest” students weren’t doing all that well in class. “Why?” she wondered. She followed her curiosity to Penn State’s psychology program. There, she studied several demographics, including cadets at West Point, young teachers, and sales representatives. After numerous psychological studies, Duckworth discovered that “grit” was the common denominator in successful people. Duckworth defines grit as “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.” People who display grit don’t start a project and abandon it a month later. They devote themselves to an overarching goal that drives everything they do. She explained that someone who practices grit goes through life like a marathon, not a sprint. Perhaps most instructive is Duckworth’s equation (she was a math teacher, after all): Talent x effort = skill. Skill x effort = achievement.
“Effort counts twice” could be the battle cry of grit. Gritty people are willing to put in the extra effort to achieve their goals, and that’s what helps them reach their goals if they don’t have innate talent. While this provides a strong case that those born with grit will succeed, grit doesn’t factor luck and opportunity into the equation, something that Duckworth is transparent about in her book. She says those who aren’t born with grit can develop it in four simple steps. First, identify an interest that can blossom into a passion. Second, practice that passion , a lot. Third, develop the belief that your
passion has purpose. While it’s not an overnight transformation, these guidelines can at least give us hope, which is the fourth step: Hold on to hope that you can succeed. Our biggest takeaway from “Grit”? Look at failures as milestones on the journey to success. Getting gritty means failing and learning from it. Any of us can get gritty if we’re willing to put in a little elbow grease.
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