Grit

I read Fred Wilson’s post a few weeks ago about a talk he held for the USV portfolio companies with Albert and the author of Grit, Angela Duckworth.

I don’t normally like to read business books, but after a long run of non-fiction focused on poverty, mental health care and race, I wanted something lighter.

My take away from Grit (TED talk here) is that it’s patience that makes us great at something, most of the time influencing success more than talent. Perseverance, consistency and practice contribute to meaningful outcomes more often than luck or pure skill.

At the beginning of the book Duckworth offers a “grit test” to understand your current grit level (55). In explaining results Duckworth points out, “Grit has two components: passion and perseverance,” and while passion is important to achieving goals, “passion and perseverance aren’t exactly the same thing”.

In interviews about what it takes to succeed, high achievers often talk about a commitment of a different kind. Rather than intensity, what comes up again and again in the remarks is the “consistency over time” (57).

So, while I recommend you read the book to get the entire picture, I learned that most of success, as proven in Duckworth’s and other long term studies, is simply sticking with the same goal and practicing a specific skill over and over.

On a positive note, we can build grit both inside and out:

Inside out-– “You can cultivate your interests You can develop a habit of daily challange-exceeding-skill practice. You can connect your work to a purpose beyond yourself. And you can learn to hope when all seems lost” (269).

Outside in--“Parents, coaches, teachers, bosses, mentors, friends” greatly contribute to your grit (269). Duckworth suggests, “If you want to be gritter, find a gritty culture and join it” (245).

Patience is never something I’ve excelled at. My grandpa called me “Ms. Impatient”.

Duckworth’s book, unlike many business books where I feel like I need to change a million things post-read, made me feel like I can become gritter, and it doesn’t seem too daunting.

Practice. Consciously. And don’t give up too easily.

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