Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Grit by Angela Duckworth

Note: I'll be headed to Saga to volunteer in the Saga International Balloon Fiesta tomorrow, so I may not be able to post for the rest of the week. 

I bought Grit because I couldn't find it in the library AND IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT.

Grit is really about the power of perseverance and should definitely be read with Peak by Anders Ericsson (there's actually a chapter dedicated to deliberate practice, but Peak goes into much more detail).

This book is divided into three parts:

Part 1: Why is Grit and Why it Matters

Basically, Grit is this combination of passion and perseverance for long term goals and it is found in a lot of high achievers. So while talent does play a role in how successful you are, grit plays a huge role too. Angela Duckworth represents it using the formula:

Talent x effort = skill ⇨ skill x effort = achievement.

So to repeat:

Talent is not the be-all and end-all (though it may give you that initial advantage)

And by the way, there is a grit scale (you can find it on her site) and I'm only about 3.7/5, which according to her means I'm grittier than about 50% of Americans.

Clearly I'm not an exceptionally gritty person. My longest runny "passion" has probably been stories (reading, and then reading and writing them) and "business" (but which area of business changes pretty often). Plus my 123456 thousand interests at any one time (knitting, sewing, cooking, etc)

Luckily, there's hope:

Part 2: Growing Grit from the Inside Out

Luckily for me, you can grow grit. You need your interest (or passion), then you need to stick with it and practice it (that was the chapter on deliberate practice), and one way to keep at it is if your passion has a purpose (does it help others? E.g. The sommelier who wants everyone to enjoy wine). And of course, have a positive growth mindset (aka hope) and don't get too negative about things.

But no man is an island, so

Part 3: Growing Grit from the Outside In

This last part is about how we can cultivate grit in others, and the author admits that this is the part with the least amount of research. But she feels that authoritative/wise parenting (being loving and demanding), which is not to be confused with authoritarian parenting (being demanding but not loving) may be the way to go.

And of course, since we're all slightly lemming-like, seeking out a culture of grittiness does help. If everyone around us is pushing their limits and never giving up, then it's easier for us to push ourselves to the limit too.


You really, really need to read this book. It takes one topic and focuses on it, which means that by the end of the book one gets a much deeper understanding of what grit is and how we can cultivate it.

This went way beyond what I heard in the Freakonomics podcast, though the podcast did cover the basics. If you think the podcast is enough, then you don't need to read the book, but if you found that you wanted more, then get the book.

The book itself is very easy to read, with lots of anecdotes to back up the studies that the author did at West Point, or the other studies that are related. There is a recommended reading, which I totally intend to read (and I see I've read at least two of the books on that list, and I loved those two so it's a good sign).

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