Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Character strengths: Grit

Last week, we learned that character strengths are key factors for achievement. We will take a closer look at several character strengths during the next few posts. We start with grit, the perseverance and passion toward long-term goals.

In a TED Talk, Angela L. Duckworth from the University of Pennsylvania explains how she came to study grit and what she and other researchers have found out about its effects.

The key message is that being really good at any discipline requires a lot of effort. There is no domain of expertise where world class performers have put in fewer than ten years of consistent deliberate practice. This is also what researcher K. Anders Ericsson from Florida State University found. Even people that are widely recognised as geniuses like Mozart had invested about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice before being outstanding at their discipline – a fact that also Malcolm Gladwell reports in his book “Outliers”. Dr. Duckworth even found that those who outperform others are often not the most talented ones, but the ones with the most grit, the ones that did not give up in the face of obstacles but instead showed sustained passion and perseverance.

Thus, the good news is: We can be extremely good even at things we are not extremely talented for. The bad news is: It requires extreme passion, perseverance and stamina, and it requires going out of one’s comfort zone in working on one’s weaknesses. And it requires some patience because there are not quick outcomes. Be when we are gritty, we can get there.

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