Imagine this very common scenario where you attend a high-school reunion party.
While it's been years since everyone saw each other and the welcoming vibe is in the air, there's always that weird mild tension… and the name of the game is friendly competition.
Then, you suddenly shocked to hear that the kid with a genius IQ back in high school is currently struggling with his career. According to your former teachers, this kid would be wildly successful in the future. This was the kid that everyone thought would invent, innovate and change the world.
And you start to ask yourself - what went wrong?
Turns out, nothing’s wrong.
According to Angela Duckworth this is just a normal scenario. The real secret behind every outstanding achievement isn't really about talent or high IQ. Rather, it’s a special concoction of passion and persistence. Duckworth likes to call it "grit."
Duckworth is no stranger to human behavior as she has spent years studying a lot of individuals. Her ultimate goal was to uncover the true defining trait shared among high achievers.
Looking at the data, high achievers come in a wide range of IQs, and that means that a high IQ does not automatically equate to future success. High achievers also have different SAT scores, so you can scratch that from the list. In fact, having a degree from a world-renowned business school is a poor indicator of future achievements.
According to Duckworth, what high achievers seem to have in common is a special combination of perseverance and passion. She said:
"If I had to boil it down to one word, then it's all about grit."
Grit is the astonishing ability to persevere. It's all about being unusually hardworking and resilient, enough to push through obstacles, difficulties, setbacks, and failures. It's also about the person's ability to drive himself/ herself to constant improvement.
On top of being able to persevere, being passionate is also another very important ingredient to the mix. Duckworth said she discovered that for high achievers, it wasn't just about the goal, but it's also how they enjoyed the journey. Even if the road got painful, frustrating or boring, the dream of giving up never crossed their minds.
What Duckworth's research demonstrated is that natural talent wasn't the best indicator that made the biggest difference.
It's more about effort rather than IQ or talent. Duckworth even came up with two critical equations to illustrate her point:
Talent + Effort = Skill
Skill + Effort = Achievement
According to Duckworth, combining talent and effort can greatly improve one's skill. However, it was the acquired skill paired with effort that truly separated the mediocre from the high achievers.
So, what does this translate to?
It's OK not to be the smartest person in the room or the most talented person. According to Duckworth, talent and IQ are just potentials.
What you do with that potential is an entirely different matter.
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