The Power of Passion and Perseverance
I saw Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk on this topic a few years ago and really enjoyed it. When I noticed my brother reading the book last year, I asked to borrow it and he kept bugging me about it until I finally read it.
I really enjoyed it. For a non-fiction science book, I thought it was very relateable and easy to read. Duckworth clearly did tons of research for this book, but she does a really good job of breaking it down into case studies and telling the reader stories so we can more easily digest the information she gives us.
Her TED Talk starts out talking about the U.S. Marines, which has a boot camp with a famously high fail rate. Since all the participants had stellar grades, test scores, and physical fitness, they were having a hard time determining where they were going wrong in their selection process. So they hired Duckworth to figure it out.
Duckworth found that things like grades, test scores, and physical fitness had absolutely nothing to do with whether someone made it through boot camp. Instead, grit appeared to be the most reliable predictor of success.
From there, Duckworth goes on to list a number of case studies of famously successful people who achieved great things, simply by sticking with it, including Jeff Bezos and Albert Einstein, who was quoted as saying, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Of course, taking credit that might have belonged to his first wife also could have had something to do with it, but that’s an issue for another blog post.
Once she had identified grit as the key to success, Duckworth went on to develop her Grit Scale, which she provides in the book so readers can test themselves. Mine was 4.7 out of 5, which apparently puts me in the 95th percentile, so why I’m not the next Steve Jobs is beyond me. I guess I just have to stick with it for a few more years.
For those without grit, Duckworth goes on to give tips for how you can develop grit within yourself and how you can raise gritty children. There isn’t a whole lot of science behind that part yet, so all she could do was provide case studies of things like how she was raised and how she’s raising her children. Still, I appreciated the effort.
Overall, I found this book to be pretty encouraging. Having had mixed success in my professional life lately, this book gave me hope that all I have to do is get back up and try again. Eventually I’ll figure out what works.
What did you guys read this week? Anything else that made you think differently about your lives?