Grit vs Talent

I have just finished reading Grit by Angela Duckworth, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

It’s a great read.

I love the idea and her compelling research that suggests that accomplishment has more to do with passion and perseverance rather than talent.

For too long we have believed that talent alone was all that was needed to succeed in life, in the classroom or the sporting field.

The problem with this belief is that if you don’t have the required talent then what do you do?

With this mindset you either have talent or you do not.

Unfortunately this rules out a hell of a lot of people.

The other problem is that it ignores reality.

Roger Federer for example (to me) oozes natural and innate talent.

Yet this picture of Federer at his prime ignores the 10,000 hours he has spent on the practice court polishing his skills.

The Good News:

Grit is a set of skills and behaviours that can be learned.

This means that we can all improve if we are willing to work hard and practice in a purposeful or deliberate way (see K. Anders Ericsson for example).

The bad news is that there is also no substitute for effort, determination and sticking with something even when it get’s hard.

Duckworth’s interviews with successful people in all walks of life suggest the following:

– they were all constantly driven to improve

– had a ferocious determination and

– knew where they were headed – they had direction.

As Duckworth says, ‘it’s this combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special.

In a word , they had grit.’

Read Grit – it could change your life and those around you!

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