Ever wondered why some people – who seem no more intelligent than others – accomplish more than the rest of us? Are they simply more talented? Or is it something else they do the rest of us could learn from?
A growing body of evidence suggests talent alone didn’t even get Einstein or Beethoven to be the geniuses they were. Rather it seems it’s the number of hours of deliberate practice that ultimately determines our success.
Now while scientists are still debating the exact number of hours it might take you or I to master a particular talent, current estimates sit around 8,000 to 10,000 hours. 8,000 to 10,000 hours! That’s a couple of hours a day, every day a year for about 8 – 10 years.
So is there anything you can do to make it easier to stick at developing your talents to stand out in your field?
What Is Grit?
Associate Professor Angela Duckworth and her colleagues have found one personal quality is shared by leaders in every field – grit.
Angela defines grit as the perseverance and passion to achieve long term goals. Grit entails working consistently toward challenges and being able to maintain interest and effort over the years despite failures, setbacks and plateaus in progress.
Her initial research explored what quality distinguishes star performers in law, journalism, investment banking, painting, academia and medicine. What she discovered is these individuals cited “grit” or a close synonym, as often as talent. In fact, many people interviewed were awed by the achievements of peers who did not at first seem as gifted as others, but whose sustained commitment to their ambitions was exceptional. Likewise, many noted with surprise that prodigiously gifted peers did not end up in the upper echelons of their field.
It seems gritty individuals approach the journey to mastery like a marathon, rather than a sprint, and this fuels their stamina to practice their talent over and over and over again. Whereas most of us take disappointment or boredom as signals that it’s time to change our approach and cut our losses, people with grit take these signs as the moment when they need to stick with it and truly show up.
But is grit something that can be built or is it something we’re born with it? In this episode of Chelle McQuaid TV, I’ll show you what you can do to improve your grit levels.
How To Improve Your Grit
Much is still being learned about grit and how we build it. To date Angela’s research suggests one of the simplest ways of improving your level of grit is to challenge some of the beliefs you hold.
For example, people who believe frustration and confusion are signs they should quit what they’re doing, are better served by realizing that these emotions are just a common part of the learning process.
Likewise, people who believe mistakes should be avoided at all costs, are better served by understanding that the most effective form of deliberate practice entails tackling challenges just beyond their current skill level.
Angela’s research also suggests improving our levels of self-control might aid our level of grit. Finding ways to challenge the expected value of undesirable impulses or temptations and increasing the expected value of more desirable behaviors is one of the approaches currently being tested.
When I’m developing talents I value highly, it helped to simply understand that mastery moves in steps, and I need to keep climbing in those moments when I feel like nothing is quite coming together and giving up feels like the sane choice. Rather than give up, I’ve come to accept in these moments that I’m simply at the steepest part of my learning curve and if I stick with it, the neural wiring I need to pull these talents off more easily will fuse together and flatten out. Giving me the necessary grit to climb the next peak.
How much grit do you have?