I recently came across a great TED video from Angela Lee Duckworth on the key to success. Angela talks you through her own experience from dropping a consulting, going into teaching math led by curiosity pursuing research aspirations to uncover the truth about what really makes kids, but also adults successful.
“In all the studies we did one characteristic emerged that predicted success. It was not social intelligence, good looks, physical health. It was grit. […] Grit is about living life like it’s a marathon not a sprint”
It strikes me over and over and over again that it`s that simple yet so hard.
Y Combinator is the legendary tech incubator responsible for Reddit, Dropbox, Airbnb, Scribd, and scores of other notable startups. When asked what made the difference between profit machines like Dropbox and catastrophic startup failures, Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham had this to say:
“Several founders mentioned specifically how much more important persistence was than intelligence. ’I’ve been surprised again and again by just how much more important persistence is than raw intelligence.’” – Paul Graham, Co-Founder of Y Combinator
He’s obviously not alone in his assessment that grit (persistence … perseverance … whatever you want to call it) is a more accurate predictor of success than intelligence.
“The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.”
– Roger Bannister
In retrospect it’s obvious. ”We miss 100% of the shots we don’t take,” as Wayne Gretzky said. Simple, right?
We are in the age where the performance psychology is seeing a big shift.
Now we do not only have a science backing up that all it takes is your preference, your determination – but we have tools and knowledge to teach it. There is no more excuse for not achieving your goals at any level.
And Duckworth is not alone in her science 1. It’s safe to say we’re witnessing an actual paradigm shift in performance psychology.
While this is intellectually interesting, what’s really exciting is the practical application. How fortunate that grit is, as Duckworth mentioned, a trainable skill. (See: The Grit Habit – free PDF that teaches Grit in a single page).
We can’t control how much “talent” we have. We can’t change the genetic cards we’re dealt at birth. But we can learn to persist in spite of all limitations. And now we know: that’s what really matters.
“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson