Before reading Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, and her related interviews and talks, I have always thought that I was a very gritty person because I could see myself being a pretty hard working and passionate person. Not long after I learnt more about grit, I found that being hard working and passionate doesn’t mean that I am gritty. Thanks to this book, I am able to slowly and steadily develop grit and I have begun to see some minor victories due to that. Let me share with you some of the most important lessons I have learnt from the book with some of my honest reflections.
Grit is about Working Towards Your Goal, Long After Things are No Longer Interesting
Many people confuse being passionate and hard working with being gritty. The main difference between the former and the latter is how long your work that moves you towards a single important goal lasts. In her book, Duckworth compared the former case to a firework. The passion is at all time high when you start a new project or a new business. You work very hard on it when it is still very new and interesting. But when things get boring or painful, you quit, just like how the firework never lasts. Reading that part of the book gave me a big ah ha moment. This is really the first time I realize that I am a hard working person but I am not a gritty person. Just by knowing that helps me a lot, as you can’t learn something that you think you already know.
Grit is the Single Most Important Factor to Success
In the book, Duckworth mentioned that after many researches she had worked on, she found that grit is the most important factor to success. Other factors like IQ are not even close. Knowing this finding is actually another big ah ha moment for me. I used to naively think that I am the smartest person in the room most of the time, and being that smart should give me some success. Of course, after so many failures of my own, I understand that I am not even that smart but I no longer know what else can move me towards a more successful life. Knowing that grit is the biggest controllable factor to success and believing that I can cultivate grit helps me gradually move towards my goal everyday. Even without all the science that backed her claim as shown in the book, I do believe it full heartedly because I can see grit is the biggest contributor to all my minor victories in the past when I think about them deeply. What is your biggest victory so far? Did grit play a role, honestly?
It’s Okay to Fall, Just Make Sure You Get Back to Work The Next Day
I really want to thank Duckworth for pointing out one of my biggest blindspots. I used to be the kind of person that worked really hard, but then when there was a big failure or a big obstacle, I simply gave up and found another goal. I didn’t do that intentionally, but I can really see that this is what has happened throughout my life so far and I was simply trapped in this meaningless and endless loop. Now, with her pointing out my blindspot, this is no longer a blindspot.
Develop Grit Internally: Find The Top-Level Goal
If you think about your goals, I bet most of them are middle-level goals. The top-level goal should be an ultimate goal that you are willing to work towards for years. You want to work towards it even if there is a high chance of not reaching that goal. To me, a top-level goal should be a goal that can make you feel the real happiness in life, a very fulfilled feeling that is usually felt when you have make an impact to other people. It may take a few trials to find your top-level goal, but once you find it, stick to it and be prepared to work towards it everyday for years. Everyone can be more gritty, if you can find that top-level goal that can make you put in the hard work, day in and day out.
Develop Grit Externally: Get Yourself in a Group of Gritty People
The famous author and speaker Jim Rohn put it best, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” To develop grit, it is very logical to put yourself in a gritty group. Whether that means working in a company that has a gritty culture or having some gritty friends, learning from people around us is something that just happens naturally. My way of doing it is to treat gritty book authors and influencers on the internet as my group of gritty mentors.
Intentionally Look for Ways to Improve
In her book, Duckworth mentioned that even though she goes jogging a lot but she never gets any faster. What’s the missing piece here? What’s the different between her and a good athlete? She mentioned that the main difference is that an athlete looks for ways to improve when they train everyday, while she doesn’t. So, in order to increase your odd of reaching your top-level goal, you need to practice or work with a mindset that always look for ways to improve.
Don’t Allow Your Children to Quit without Reaching a Logical Milestone
If you are a parent, you should know that it is very important for your children to develop grit at an early age. One of the keys to do that is to never let your children quit before they reach at least a logical milestone. For example, if they want to play in the school basketball team, make sure they finish at least one season. If they want to learn how to play the piano, make them learn how to play a song at least before quitting.
Passion is very important but if you think about it, how many people you know that are very passionate about something but never spend more than months, if not hours, working on that thing that they are passionate about. I would like to end this piece of writing with Duckworth’s famous quote: “passion plus perseverance equals success”. If you really have the passion, where is your perseverance part?