So, what kind of person is a gritty person? Well, Dr. Duckworth shares in her book that grit paragons are satisfied with being dissatisfied. In their own eyes their own performance is never good enough. They are grateful for their continual improvements, but they also know that there is always room for more improvement. They’re driven to constantly improve and enjoy the journey filled with all the hard work just as much as the highlight film and medals at the end. In essences, they believe that raising to the occasion has nothing to do with talent and everything to do with attitude. Grit paragons love to compete. They hate to lose. And maybe even more important, they love to keep going after failure when most others tend to give up.
Those who defy the odds are especially gritty. Grittier kids stick it out longer in order to graduate high school. They stay on the job longer, thus are more often employed. They get advanced degree in college. But, surprisingly, many of the grittiest kids of all are the ones who graduate from two-year colleges where the dropout rate can be as high as 80%. Those who overcome adversity that causes many others to quit become especially gritty.
Talent is constantly romanticizing our society. But the truth is that talent distracts us from what’s even more important… effort. Psychologists have long debated why some people are more successful than others. This on-going debate goes back to at least the spirited debates that Francis Galton and his very observant half-brother Charles Darwin used to partake in. Darwin was always surprised that talent continued to dominate Galton’s short list of what made people successful.
The father of modern psychology William Henry James said that us humans live far within our limits and are only half-awake. Why? Well, Dr. Duckworth seems to believe that it is because many people are distracted by talent. Both their own talent and the talent of others is derailing them. If they blame others’ success on others being naturally more talented then it lets them off the hook for not being as successful as others. Furthermore, it makes the status quo okay. So why try? In addition, if they focus only on their own talent and the highlights of what they have become, chances are they never will put in the hard work necessary for actually becoming that person that they truly can become. Our culture fixation on talent, and constantly defaulting to the easy explanation of success through the well-known talent story is hurting us far more than it is helping us.
Even the great Charles Darwin admitted to his half-brother Sir Francis Galton that he was never really that smart or talented. He was observant, but certainly not any more talented than others. Darwin equates his success to the fact that he would think about problems long after others had given up.
So, now you must ask yourself if you have been fixated on talent at the cost of grit. Focus on the effort and overcoming adversity and you’ll become grittier.
Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. You can learn more about him at: www.GranddaddysSecrets.com.