When I was in college, one of my professors told us about a former student who was now a bigshot at a company in New York City and how well they were doing. A classmate of mine said to me, “Well, I guess you can have an okay career after you leave here.” I didn’t respond, but I’ve always believed that, ultimately, it really is up to you how far you go in your professional life. Yes, education and connections definitely help along the way, but just because you went to a certain school or a door is opened for you doesn’t mean that anything is guaranteed after that. You have to work hard and keep improving if you want to fulfill your dreams.
And, by the way, everyone has their own definition of what success means. For some, it’s a prestigious job on Wall Street, for others, it’s flipping pancakes at the local diner in their hometown where they know everyone.
But back to my original point: intelligence might not be the best indicator of future success in life. Instead, it might be what psychologist Angela Duckworth calls “grit.” Duckworth believes that a special blend of passion and persistence is what makes high achievers special. In other words, not high IQ scores, high SAT scores, or a diploma from a prestigious university.
Duckworth believes that grit is about being resilient and hardworking, and always wanting to improve. And another important aspect of this mindset: being able to overcome failure, which is tough for all of us. Passion is another key element in being successful. Duckworth says of some of the successful people she’s studied, “Even if some of the things they had to do were boring, or frustrating, or even painful, they wouldn’t dream of giving up. Their passion was enduring.”
Duckworth believes that effort is more important than IQ and she came up with two equations to explain her concept.
• Talent x effort = skill
• Skill x effort = achievement
Duckworth says, “Talent is how quickly your skills improve when you invest effort. Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and use them.”
Bottom line: grit, heart, and busting your rear end really do count and pay off. So even if you didn’t get into the best school, don’t have a bunch of family connections, and get rejected from a job (or multiple jobs), keep pushing forward. Be gritty and you’ll go far.