While browsing the interwebs, I came across this TED talk (I’ll paraphrase below if you don’t have the time to watch it):
In a nutshell, she taught 7th graders (USA), and what she found was that it wasn’t always the kids with a high IQ that did well. In fact, some of her brightest students didn’t do well at all.
This sounds odd, but it makes sense if you consider that most “smart” kids find classes easier and become lazy because they can just coast along, while some of the other kids know they have to work harder to get a passing grade, and with small wins comes the momentum these kids need to start doing much better than their peers.
Duckworth then went back to school to become a psychologist, and her main focus was figuring out why some people did really well, and others didn’t. Her approach was to study people in incredibly challenging environments.
She went to West point Military Academy, a National Spelling Bee, and looked at which sales people of some large companies would earn the most. In all of the places she examined, one characteristic shone through as a trait of the most successful – Grit.
Grit is passion combined with perseverance, it’s firmness of character, it’s what makes you keep getting up when everything says you should just stay down and accept were you are.
This TED talk really inspired me, so I looked into it a bit more to find out how to develop grit.
From the test I gleamed some insight in to what it means to be super gritty, and condensed it into 5 core characteristics of developing grit:
- Have a long term mindset – pick a long term goal, that’s powerful enough to inspire you towards it.
- Work hard – something moving is easier to steer than something that’s still, so keep working.
- Don’t get distracted – it’s better to do one thing incredibly well, than lots of things mediocre.
- Don’t get discouraged. This is why you need inspiration from your long term goal, and not motivation – when you’re down you need something to pull you towards it. Motivation is based on self discipline, and you only have a limited supply that can run out at any second.
- Finish what you start. Again, this is where a long term mindset comes in to play, because sometimes things that you start end up not aligning with your end goals. It’s your end goal that you’re working towards that you need to finish. That being said wherever possible, finish. If it looks impossible, try anyway.
The best part is that even just knowing those 5 things, will give you a greater chance of success. So go out and write that book, get Leonidas-fit, or build that empire.
Where there’s a will there’s a way – you just need a big enough “why” to power the “will”.
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