Picture this – you, a proper genius, and your friend, a daft bimbo, live in the same town, go to the same school, eat the same food and do the same things most of the time. You can memorize and entire poem vey fast, in one sitting you can grasp the most difficult of concepts and understand a complicated book in one reading. Your friend, on the other, is just a regular Joe trying to make his way in the world but he had this iron will. You recognize these fiery eyes so with the kindness of your heart you encourage him to aim higher. The next thing you know your friend graduated high school as the class Valedictorian, he graduated Summa Cum Laude and became a well-known expert in his field of work. You, on the other, hand got stuck in your nine to five day job and a mediocre paycheck. Before the story gets dark, let’s just end with a happy note. He remembered you encouraging him so he went back to thank you and give you a respectable position in his multi-billion dollar company.
What if it didn’t end that way though? You’d be furious! Mad I say! You’d be asking yourself why you didn’t become as successful. You were smarter – you were in some way had the edge over him. What went wrong?
First of all, if you’re furious of other people’s success you have some serious issues you have to deal with. Envy is good in recognizing what you don’t have and want to have but too much of it is seriously dangerous. You should understand that comparing yourself to others is a futile effort because people some people will always be better than you in one way or another.
With that aside, what you lacked is something many great minds do not have – grit. In her book, Angela Lee Duckworth defined grit as “perseverance and passion for long term goals”. It is a positive non-cognitive trait that becomes a powerful motivation to meet a goal. Duckworth, the foremost leading expert in “grit”, argues that IQ or talent alone cannot be the factor to success of an individual. It combines our will to push on, our ambition, and our resilience in controlling floods of negative emotions and thoughts that compels us to give-up all for the sake of a goal that can take months or years to achieve. Grit is present in athletes who constantly practice every day to perfect the most fundamental of motion in their art. It is present in every doctor who spends countless hours of reading and memorizing. It is present in every cancer researcher who, despite his failures, continues try new methods in finding safe and effective ways in combatting this illness. The underdog mentality that was instilled to them by their environment causes them to hold on to the words “I’ll prove you wrong.” Duckworth claims that the key to success is not inherent talent but the unceasing energy of perseverance that you can cultivate in your life.
The best thing here is that you can be grittier too. You can start by chopping down large goals to basic achievable objectives. Every time you achieve those objectives pat yourself on the back and give yourself a reward. Feedback from others and rewards are important in developing a culture of excellence within yourself. In the perspective of neuroscience, giving yourself these tangible effects in each achievement reached conditions your body to release happy hormones like dopamine that will make you feel very contented in each step of the way. In the long run this pushes you to persevere even further and you will start recognizing and eradicating things that are pulling you away from your goal. Tracking your progress is crucial in this process as it helps you evaluate your capabilities and look back on how far you have come.
In this world of giving-up easily, grittiness is an important attitude that everyone should develop. Whatever goals you aspire to achieve it is utterly undeniable that we should persevere in achieving these goals. If skill is equal to talent multiplied by effort then it should be noted Inherent talent only counts once but grit, which is effort doubled, counts twice. In the end, with the grit in our heart, we realize that everything that we are and everything we want to be begins and ends with ourselves.