Risk & Business Magazine Gillons Insurance Summer 2019 Magazine - Page 11

GRIT I have found that “grit” is the common denominator of high achievers in every domain that I've studied—in art and music, but also industry, law, and politics. WHAT IS “GRIT”? When I talk to top performers about their experience and who they most admire, the same phrases come out over and over again in totally different fields. Artists and CEOs talk about the importance of struggle, overcoming adversity, and constantly asking yourself, “What can I do better?” There was an emphasis on always looking to improve and be the opposite of complacent. IN OTHER WORDS, GRIT IS NOT JUST PERSEVERANCE OVER THE LONG-TERM, IT’S ALSO PASSION. IT’S LOVING WHAT YOU DO, AND FEELING LIKE IT IS MEANINGFUL. IT KEEPS YOU LEARNING EVERY DAY. THE DANGER OF “TALENT” Grit is not the same thing as having ability in a domain. It’s about having passion and perseverance to stay in that domain. This makes grit distinct from talent—especially if you define “talent” as the ability to learn quickly and easily. For a long time, I have been trying to get people to use the word “talent” with more specificity. We throw it around all the time. I was at an award ceremony for my teenage daughter, and “talent” was used at least 10 times in different contexts to describe this student or that teacher. Sometimes it was about mastery or achievement, but it was also used to describe ability, the potential to achieve, or the facility to learn—like the phrase “gifted and talented.” This confusion is destructive because we’re using the term “talent” in the same way that we use “skill.” It sets people up to think that they should be automatically gifted and highly skilled at something, otherwise it’s not meant to be. 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. A 2013 MacArthur Fellow, Angela has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs. Prior to her career in research, 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 anniversary. She has also been a McKinsey management consultant and a math and science teacher in the public schools of New York City, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Actor and musician Will Smith would tell you it's the hours and hours and hours of effort that takes whatever talent you have and translates that into skill. “No matter how talented you are,” Smith once told an interviewer, “your talent is going to fail you if you’re not skilled—if you don’t study, if you don’t work really hard and dedicate yourself to being better every single day.” Angela completed her undergraduate degree in Advanced Studies Neurobiology at Harvard, graduating magna cum laude. With the support of a Marshall Scholarship, she completed an MSc with Distinction in Neuroscience from Oxford University. She completed her PhD in Psychology as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. This is where grit is relevant to whatever you choose to do. Even if you’re the most “talented” person in the world, if you give up on something in the first month or the first year, you're never going to be great at it. Of course, no matter how much grit you have, if you have zero talent in a domain, you’re not going to excel. The lesson for all of us is to take an honest account of our talents, then choose one to work on over the long-term, with passion and perseverance. Angela has received numerous awards for her contributions to K–12 education, including a Beyond Z Award from the KIPP Foundation. Angela's TED talk is among the most-viewed of all time. Her first book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, is a NO. 1 New York Times best seller. A PROPER PLACE FOR BOTH Talent multiplied by sustained effort yields world-class skill and eventually achievement. + AngelaDuckworth.com * This article was adapted from an interview with Amazon Marketplace. - amazon.com/b?node=17395092011 11