Grit : Road to success

Paras Kher
Award winning psychologist Angela Duckworth in her bestselling book ‘Grit’ makes a very important point: Any effort you make ultimately counts twice toward your goal! Hustle! Angela claims how rising up to the occasion has almost nothing to do with talent, what matters is an attitude to ‘Never Give Up’. That doesn’t mean ‘Talent’ has no use, of course it has; in reference talent is how quickly your craft improves when you put in time. To achieve anything we need to put this talent to use, which implies putting talent to work. Represented below in simple formulae:
Talent * Effort = Skill
Skill * Effort = Achievement
Consistency of efforts over time is everything. As Will Smith famously said “You may be better than me in nine categories but if we are on a treadmill either I will win or I will die trying”. Success is achieved by people whose thinking is in one direction, who employ everything as material, who zealously observe their own inner life and that of others, who perceive everything as models, who tirelessly combine all means available to them, who show up daily and continuously push little forward every day. This combination of perseverance with determination and direction is ‘Grit’. Angela mentions that scores, high school rank, leadership experience, and athletic ability are one thing, but what matters most is ‘Grit’. Our talent or potential doesn’t matter until we do something with it.
“People don’t differ in intellect but zeal and hard work” – Darwin.
We overestimate what can be achieved in a day but underestimate what can be done over a year, the subtle art of making small progress everyday – it’s compounding effect. Superlative performance is really a confluence of small skills and activities. Angela gives an example of success rate to submit a cartoon in NewYorker- it’s one entry out of ten. Robert Mankoff after receiving 200 rejections from 1974-77 was finally selected for an entrée on June 20, 1977. How many attempts do we make before we give up on the idea? Three, Four… When the going gets tough, the tough gets going!
There are four physiological assets for ‘Grit’
Interest: Nobody is interested in everything but everyone is interested in something. So matching your work to what catches your attention is a good idea. It may not be a guarantee, though it definitely helps the odds. Deep Interest or Passion is not a sudden divine realization. It is gradual over a period of time. The most important point is that interests aren’t developed by introspection but rather interactions with the world. It is not an efficient process but one needs to try different flavors before going for ‘Ben & Jerry’s – Chocolate Fudge Brownie – I mean they are the best! Interest thrives in an environment of encouragement & as my mentor would say “Isn’t positive affirmations a wonderful thing”.
Practice: After discovery come development. Development is a time consuming process, it needs to be triggered again and again. Find people who share your interests, get a mentor. Your role as a leaner will become more active and over a period of time your knowledge and curiosity will grow, and so will you as a person. Every page you turn, every lap you make, every stroke you draw counts double to make you one percent better every day. Japanese people have a term for it ‘Kaizen’ – it’s the relentless pursuit to continuously improve. So next time in the gym or workplace meeting – stretch your goals by a little much.
Purpose: Personally I am a big fan of motivation, and how it never works. I don’t want to harshly break this bubble for you but motivation rarely works. You may have an adrenaline high to achieve a goal, your motivation will push you a few days, weeks or even a month, and eventually the motivation will fade over time or crash once a hurdle comes. What doesn’t die is a schedule! Each day, same place, same time push little forward irrespective whether you are feeling like it or not. This exercise will help to change in small but meaningful ways your current work, to align better to your core values.
Hope: Fall seven, Rise eight – Japanese proverb. You can’t do it today, that’s perfectly fine, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it tomorrow. Growth mindset gives rise to Positive self-talk which in gives strength for Perseverance to overcome adversity. Watch the mismatch between words and action here. If you create a vision and stick to it, you can make amazing things happen in your life.
Often our limits are self-imposed or get mentioned to us. Nothing is impossible, No goal is beyond reach, go beyond what’s possible and what’s not. People can’t do something themselves will tell you nobody can do that, if you want it bad enough you will go for it, else the desire is not as strong.
Follow your dreams, if they don’t work reassess. Persist and don’t give up the idea in execution phase, get the feedback and improve!