Boston Centerless - Precision Matters Magazine Boston Centerless Precision Matters Fall 2019 - Page 13
FORMUL A FOR GROW TH
WHEN YOU look at the development
of world-class performers, I truly believe
that you’ll find a blueprint for any of us
who are trying to achieve excellence in our
The blueprint was first documented
by Benjamin Bloom, a psychologist at
the University of Chicago. He studied 120
world-class performers in diverse domains
ranging from tennis to neuroscience.
Based on his observations and my own,
I’ve identified four distinct phases of
developing talent: interest, practice,
integration, and growth.
Before you do anything else, you have to
be interested in what you do. You have to
be authentically curious. You have to want
to learn more just for the sake of learning
more. This period, Professor Bloom often
called the Early Years, or sometimes the
Romantic Period because there is this
playful flirtation with something that you
may or may not pursue more seriously.
After the early Romantic Period comes a
pattern of dedicated practice. This involves
working on weaknesses, looking to a coach
for feedback, and really striving with
effort to consistently improve. Of course,
dedicated practice is a more serious pursuit,
which is why this stage is sometimes called
the Precision Period. Scientists today call it
deliberate practice: looking with intention
for ways to improve in a skill, with feedback
typically from a coach or a mentor.
Practice is a prelude to the third stage,
a period called the Later Years or the
Period of Integration. After you integrate
early playful interest with the capacity for
sustained deliberate practice, this thing
that you’re doing—whether it’s swimming
or chess or running a company—starts to
become a part of who you are. It is part of
This is part of our purpose here on earth.
Because we’re human, all of us crave being
part of something larger than ourselves.
It’s an integration of everything, including a
sense in which we as individuals are serving
a larger group.
Throughout all of our development, no
matter how old we are, we need a mindset
of growth and optimism. This is a topic
of scientific study that dates back 50
years. It is the idea that we can approach a
situation—good or bad—and think, “What
can I do here? What can I as an individual do
to change things for the better and keep
things on course?”
That is an optimistic, growth-oriented
mindset. You need it if you’re seven,
you need it if you’re 77, if you’re going to
pursue excellence or persevere when life
gets hard. Being growth-oriented toward
possibility allows people to get back up
when we fail.
Even when you’re budding in your
interest, even when you’re practicing
deliberately, even when you are fulfilled by
a beyond-the-self purpose—at all stages
you need that mindset of growth and of
Angela Duckworth is the Founder and CEO of
Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to
advance the science and practice of character
development. She is also the Christopher H.
Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology
at the University of Pennsylvania, faculty
co-director of the Penn-Wharton Behavior
Change For Good Initiative, and faculty
co-director of Wharton People Analytics.
Previously, Angela founded a summer
school for low-income children that was
profiled as a Harvard Kennedy School case
study and, in 2018, celebrated its 25th. She
has also been a McKinsey management
consultant and a math and science teacher.
Angela completed her undergraduate
degree in Advanced Studies Neurobiology
at Harvard, an MSc in Neuroscience from
Oxford University, and a PhD in Psychology
at the University of Pennsylvania.
Her first book, Grit: The Power of Passion and
Perseverance, is a No. 1 New York Times best seller.
***This article was adapted from an
interview with Amazon Marketplace. -