In this brief TedTalk (approx. 6 minutes), psychology researcher Angela Lee Duckworth explains her theory of “grit” as a key predictor of success in life.
“In all those very different contexts, one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. And it wasn’t social intelligence. It wasn’t good looks, physical health, and it wasn’t IQ.
“It was grit.
“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day-in, day-out. Not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years. And working really hard to make that future a reality.
“Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
“Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff … People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things.”
For the most part, I’ve lived by the maxim that says if you don’t like something in your life, change it. Don’t complain about it. Don’t blame someone else for it, and don’t merely tolerate it. Instead, get busy, and get to work doing all you can to change it. It’s a strategy that’s paid off for me time and again, and I highly recommend it for most of the troubles life sends your way.
“We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavoring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.”
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
“Those artists who pursued their painting and sculpture more for the pleasure of the activity itself than for extrinsic rewards have produced art that has been socially recognized as superior … It is those who are least motivated to pursue extrinsic rewards who eventually receive them.”
Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
“This isn’t working,” said the voice inside my head. “You’re not doing it right. If you paint over it now, it’s just gonna peel again in a year or two, and you’ll have to repaint it. You’re wasting your time.”
“You’re right,” I thought. “I’m really frustrated, and I just want to quit.”
“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’”