Someone asked me recently what has helped my career the most. Other than colleagues and mentors, it is years of consistently reading and learning. This book by psychologist Angela Duckworth comes as close to handing you the keys to success as any book I’ve ever read. Duckworth shares her research with West Point cadets, teachers from the toughest school districts in the country and kids competing in the National Spelling Bee. What she learned should empower anyone willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard.
Even though we live in a culture obsessed with talent, it’s not talent that drives long-term success. It’s grit – the mindset to persevere by working through challenges. And, the best news of all is grit can be learned. All of us can become gritty.
Duckworth refers to the grittiest people as Paragons of Grit. They all have a few traits in common. Gritty people are optimists. When they stumble their mindset is “this is temporary…I can fix this.” They fix it by identifying weakness and eliminating it with relentless practice. People without grit assume failure is permanent. They have no reason to work past it.
Most importantly, Paragons of Grit have purpose in their lives. They believe what they are doing matters to a world beyond them. It’s a great lesson for anyone thinking about what to do with their lives. We hear so much that careers should be guided by passion. We tell young people to go out and find their passion. Passion is important. But, if you find purpose in your life, a reason you believe you were put on earth for, that should be your north star. Purpose emboldens you with the grit needed to guide you through life’s biggest challenges.
Review by John Liporace