Technique 1.78 Grit Determination

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Grit is an important element of leadership based on work with professionals in investment banking, painting, journalism, academia, medicine and law; it is more than ability and talent.

We know about cognitive ability (IQ), ie how to measure it reliably & precisely, and the outcomes it predicts. On the other hand, we know less about how individuals unleash their abilities.  Most individuals make use of only a small part of their resources; while others push themselves to their limits.

The question needs to be asked and answered why some individuals accomplish more than others of equal intelligence.

Some attributes successful people display include creativity, vigour, emotional intelligence, charisma, self-confidence, emotional stability, physical attractiveness, strong set of values, goal focus, etc. Some traits seem more critical than others in a given situation.

Also, most successful people have grit; in its basic form it involves perseverance and passionate commitment to long-term goals, ie
"...Grit entails working strenuously towards challenges, maintaining effort and interest over the years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course..."

Angela Duckworth et al 2007

Grit  involves "staying power" and temperament, eg - ferocious determination, ie know what they want, strong focus, etc,

- unusual resilience, perseverance, stamina & persistence, ie overcome setbacks/adversities, know how to handle failures, self-denial & self-control (the ability to resist temptation & control impulses), are "finishers" (complete the task or job), committed, maintain interest, never give up, able to persist for the long-term, etc. "...The Beatles were turned down by nearly every record label. George Lucas couldn't find a movie studio that would make Star Wars. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post were the only reporters assigned to cover Watergate. John Kennedy Toole went to his grave with his Confederacy of Dunces still unpublished..."
Yancey Strickler 2019.

This happens often, ie a good idea goes unrecognised, experts get it wrong, etc but perseverance prevails

- industrious, ie hard-working, embrace the challenge, etc

- passionate, eg a strong belief in what you are doing,

- self-confidence, ie confident in their ability to succeed, etc

- directional consistency, eg exclusive, unswerving pursuit of a passion/goal/objective, etc

- have prior experience in the activity, eg sales, technology, etc

NB Some of these traits, which can be evident in early childhood, are predictors of life-time achievement

Talent and/or intelligence and/or ability are not guarantees for success, ie some very talented/intelligent/capable people are not successful as they lack grit.

"...our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another..."
Angela Duckworth, 2016

"...Many were awed by the achievements of peers who did not at first seem as gifted as others but whose sustained commitment to their ambition was exceptional.  Likewise, many noted with surprise the prodigiously gifted peers who do not end up in the upper echelons of their fields..."
Angela Duckworth et al, 2007

Unfortunately we have a bias towards selecting talented/gifted (great natural ability) people rather than industrious people. Yet most successful people are hard-working and have experienced many failures on their path towards success.

"...People knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, would not seem so wonderful after all..."
Michelangelo as quoted by Jerry Useem, 2016

Need to experience setbacks and learn to overcome them, ie how to persist at something in the absence of positive feedback, like success.

"...what distinguished high performers, she found, was largely how they process feelings of frustration, disappointment or even boredom. Whereas others took these signals to cut their losses, high performers did not - as if they had been conditioned to believe that struggle was not a signal for alarm......frustration, we too readily believe we don't have the right stuff..."

Jerry Useem, 2016

"...if you can change people's beliefs about how success happens, then you have a crack at changing their behaviours..."

Angela Duckworth as quoted by Jeremy Useem, 2016

One downside of grit is the risk of "putting all your eggs in one basket", ie focus exclusively on one area.

Even if you are forced to change path, grit is involved again!!!!

Below there are a number of questions that need to be answered about yourself. Please circle the appropriate answer in the boxes below the questions

1. Do you overcome setbacks to handle important challenges?

Always Sometimes Occasionally Never

2. Do new ideas, projects, etc sometimes distract you from current activities?

Always Sometimes Occasionally Never

3. Do your interests change regularly (say annually)?

Always Sometimes Occasionally Never

4. Do setbacks discourage you?

Always Sometimes Occasionally Never

5. Do you become obsessed with certain ideas or projects for a short time then lose interest?

Always Sometimes Occasionally Never

6. Are you a conscientious hard worker?

Always Sometimes Occasionally Never

7. Do you often set a goal but later change to pursue a different one?

Always Sometimes Occasionally Never

8. Do you have difficulty maintaining focus on projects that take longer than a few months to complete?

Always Sometimes Occasionally Never

9.  Do you complete whatever you begin?

Always Sometimes Occasionally Never

10. Have you ever achieved a goal that took years of work?

Always Sometimes Occasionally Never

11. Are you interested in new activities every few months?

Always Sometimes Occasionally Never

12. Are you diligent?

Always Sometimes Occasionally Never

1. For questions 1, 4, 6, 9, 10 & 12 allocate the following points
- always (4)
- sometimes (3)
- occasionally (2)
- never (1)
2. For questions 2, 3, 5, 7, 6 & 11 allocate the following points
- always (1)
- sometimes (2)
- occasionally (3)
- never (4)
3.  Total all the points and divide by 12; a maximum score of 5 indicates extreme gritty, while a minimum score of 1 suggests a lack of grittiness)
(source: Angela Duckworth et al 2007)

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