True Grit: Can Perseverance Be Taught?
Posted by Renita on Thursday, May 19, 2011
Angela Lee Duckworth, Ph. D., assistant professor of psychology at University of Pennsylvania, has been leading research into the quality of “grit,” and how it trumps talent and intelligence as an indicator of high achievement. Here are some of the key points from her fascinating talk at TedXBlue:
- Intelligence is only part of the story of achievement.
- Although Dr. Duckworth chalked up a number of prestigious achievements (McKinsey consultant, study at Oxford, etc.) during her 20s, her first decade of adult life was distinctly lacking in grit — what it showed in breadth, it lacked in singular focus and purpose.
- The 10-Year Rule stands: no matter the arena, 10+ years of deliberate practice are required to become a world-class performer. (Even for Mozart.)
- As William James, one of the pioneers of American psychology, said: “We could design psychology to understand our talents and how to unlock them” — arguably, says Dr. Duckworth, we haven’t focused enough how to unlock potential.
- Catharine Cox, known for her work on IQ, isolated two common qualities of geniuses: 1) they didn’t abandon tasks from mere changeability (for novelty’s sake) and 2) they didn’t abandon tasks in the face of obstacles (they were able to sustain passion)
- Dr. Duckworth used the Grit Scale to see if it would predict who survived Beast Barracks, the grueling summer training at West Point Military Academy. (It did). Interestingly, self-discipline is not necessarily correlated with grit. And talent definitely not — the gritty people demonstrated lower levels of talent.