In her book, “Grit,” Angela Duckworth addresses the question of what it takes to be successful. Why do some people realize their goals while others don't? What makes the difference?
Duckworth went to West Point Academy to try to identify which cadets would make it and which ones would drop out. She also worked with spelling bee contestants to attempt to identify which ones would advance the furthest.
What she discovered is that what matters more than IQ, social intelligence, strength or looks was grit. Grit was the strongest predictor for success. What is grit? According to Duckworth, grit is passion and perseverance.
Passion is a deeply held belief and knowledge of what you want to accomplish. Perseverance is resilience, not quitting and rising to the occasion. It’s working in a diligent way every day to continue improving even if only incrementally. Duckworth gives the examples of Olympic swimmers, like Michael Phelps, that train every day to improve their times by milliseconds.
Most people consider highly successful people as outliers possessing rare intelligence or talent. However, Duckworth concludes that becoming successful has more to do with grit than learning easily or quickly (i.e., talent), and she provides ways to develop grit. The bottom line: it takes a really long time and a strong desire and craving to accomplish great things.