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The Daily Grind

Talent + Practice = Achievement, but Extraordinary Practice Requires Grit


Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, Outliers, invites a thoughtful
conversation on factors that differentiate those that have achieved
greatness, such as the Beatles, Bill Gates and Mozart. Gladwell cites
research which shows that besides raw talent, an important factor in
those with remarkable achievements is the incredible amount of time that
even the most gifted have to put towards their craft for extraordinary
success to be achieved. What sets apart the good from the very, very
good? Practice . . . lots of practice, in fact 10,000 hours of it.
Gladwell calculates that to achieve the 10,000 hour mark, we would have
to practice 3 hours per day for 10 years.

In thinking
about this tremendous amount of time, I began to consider another
concept that would be operating within a person that possesses the drive
to practice and work toward their goals with a dedication that
surpasses most … that of grit. Grit, as defined by researcher, Dr.
Angela Duckworth, is the “passionate perseverance toward a very
ambitious and long-term goal.” It has been found that the amount of
one’s grit is as or more important a predictor of achievement as IQ,
talent, and character strengths, such as optimism and social
intelligence. In fact, Duckworth was surprised by one finding in her
study: Grit was not highly correlated with IQ. This may be a hopeful
finding for those that are not naturally brilliant; Duckworth notes that
while there may not be a way to teach people how to be smarter, there
are qualities of grit, such as self-control, that may be teachable. The
implications of Gladwell and Duckworth’s work are manifold. For
executives that pride themselves on being “the sharpest tack in the
box,” they should consider their grit and develop strategies to help
increase their grit quotient.

For further reading:

1. Psychology Today Magazine on GRIT

Duckworth, A.L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M.D., & Kelly, D.R.
(2007). Grit: perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087-1101

3. Grit: It’s
what separates the best from the merely good, E. Packard, Monitor on
Psychology, Volume 38, No. 10 November 2007,

4. The Grit Scale:

(by Daniel J. DeWitt, PhD)

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