Leadership

A four-letter word that is key to success

Angela Duckworth has some good news and some bad news for you.

The bad news? Being talented isn't enough to achieve success. The good news? You can develop the grit necessary to commit to and excel in something you're passionate about.

Angela Duckworth
Angela Duckworth

"Grit is important because life can be hard," said Duckworth, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the recently published book, "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance."

By grit, Duckworth means channeling passion and perseverance to achieve long-term goals.

"My data support the fairly common sense intuition that your talent for something is one thing and quantity and quality of effort is something different," Duckworth said.

While talent is great to have, it does not guarantee being able to stick it out for the long term. Often, people overlook the importance of effort, she said.

While doing her research, Duckworth found it surprising that grit and talent were so independent.

"Rationally why wouldn't you be the person who's working the hardest because you get so much out of it?" she said about those with above-average ability.

It turns out sometimes there is no correlation between the two, or even a weak negative correlation.

Duckworth's research uncovered a silver lining for those who lack in "stick-to-itness": People can cultivate grit.

For those who are not as tenacious as they want to be, Duckworth recommends asking yourself the following questions:

  • Am I not passionate about this or not persevering?
  • Am I interested in this? Do I find it valuable?
  • Am I not putting in the daily effort to get better and not resilient enough in the face of setbacks?

Cultivating this self-awareness is the first step toward getting more of that grit if you decide you want it.

Still, Duckworth cautioned against using grit to just power through something that doesn't spark passion.

"Perseverance without passion is just drudgery, and that's not the point," she said.