Social media has its pros and cons. But if you follow the right people, it can become a very rich source of knowledge and inspiration. I found out about this book through someone I follow on social media and it turned out to be one of my favorite reads of 2017: Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. The title itself was captivating and promising so I was excited to carry it in my suitcase while packing for my holidays. The book is a psychological examination of the concept of Grit where the author discusses how effort is often ignored, outshone by 'talent', when really what is more important in life is effort. GRIT VS TALENT It seems that when anyone accomplishes a feat worth writing about, we rush to categorize that individual as extraordinarily “talented.” If we overemphasize talent, we underemphasize everything else. We want to believe that Michael Phelps was born to swim in a way that none of us were and that none of us could. We don’t want to sit on the pool deck and watch him progress from amateur to expert. We prefer our excellence fully formed, we prefer mystery to mundanity. If we think of genius as something magical, we are not obliged to compare ourselves and find ourselves lacking. THE EXERCISE EXAMPLE About 40 % of people who buy home exercise equipment later say they ended up using it less than they’d expected. How hard we push ourselves in a given workout matters, of course, but the bigger impediment to progress is that sometimes we stop working out altogether. As any coach or athlete will tell you, consistency of effort over the long run is everything. How often do people start down a path and then give up on it entirely? How many treadmills and stationary bikes are gathering dust in basements? TALENT AND SKILL The separation of talent and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel. Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft. Skill is not the same thing as achievement, either. Without effort, your talent is nothing more than your unmet potential. Without effort, your skill is nothing more than what you could have done but didn’t. With effort, talent becomes skill and, at the very same time, effort makes skill productive. FOUR ELEMENTS OF GRIT
- Interest. Passion begins with intrinsically enjoying what you do. Remember that interests must be triggered again and again and again. Find ways to make that happen. And have patience. The development of interests takes time.
- The capacity to practice. One form of perseverance is the daily discipline of trying to do things better than we did yesterday.
- Purpose. What ripens passion is the conviction that your work matters.
- Hope. Hope is a rising-to-the-occasion kind of perseverance.