We live in a society where talent is praised above all else. We look on in awe as we hear stories about prodigious musicians who learned to play the violin at age 4 or the coding geniuses that start the next big social media company. Although there are people out there who fit this bill, talent is not the only part of the success equation. In the book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth, Professor Duckworth explores how “Grit” may be the key to unlocking your full potential. You may be asking, what is “Grit”?
Grit is passion and perseverance towards a set of long-term goals. Grit is having the stamina and approaching each challenge as a marathon, not a sprint. It’s consistently sticking with one idea, one goal or one objective for years. She contends that putting a substantial amount of effort into acquiring skills and then those applying those skills to achieve your goals is the formula for achieving lasting success in any industry. Below I’ve provided each formula discussed in the book:
Talent x Effort = Skill
Skill x Effort = Achievement
When someone starts out learning anything, they need to dedicate the proper time and effort to acquire their desired skill. If the person is talented, they may be able to learn the skill faster than those who are less talented. However, since “effort” is accounted for twice when someone is looking to achieve something spectacular, it’s actually a much more important variable for whether a person achieves the level of success that they desire. By applying more effort to learning your craft and then applying more effort to applying that skill to achieve a goal, you can compound your results over time. My football coach would often say “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” and he couldn’t have been more right.
How to develop “Grit”
Now that we’ve determined how important “Grit” can be to achieving long-term success let’s delve into how you can develop more of it over time. In the book, Angela goes over the parable of the bricklayer. In the story, 3 bricklayers are building a church together. When each bricklayer is asked about their role the first bricklayer says “I’m laying bricks” (a job), the second says “I’m building a church” (a career) and the third says “I’m building the house of God” (a calling). In this example, each bricklayer was performing the same action but the third bricklayer viewed his role as extremely important and was driven by a higher calling. Research shows that people, who view their job as a calling missed on average 1/3 fewer days of work, were more engaged throughout the day and on average put in 20% more hours of work per week.
If the average person works 40 hours per week, this extra 20% translates to around 400 extra hours of work per year. That’s almost 3 months of full-time work! If this effort is applied consistently over a decade, the individual who puts in 20% more hours will have amassed 2 more years of experience (4000 more hours) in the same time frame. The moral of the story is that even if you don’t currently view your work as a calling, try to figure out how your job lines up with your bigger purpose in life. The more passionate you are about the work you do every day, the faster you’ll achieve mastery and fulfillment.