Posted on 08/24/2022
As this year comes to a close, many of us (myself included) set new goals and resolutions for the New Year that are never achieved. So, as we reflect on the past year and plan for the new year ahead, may your future dreams and goals be informed by this newsletter on GRIT!
“Grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie within a gritty individual’s path to accomplishment, and serves as a driving force in achievement realization.” Wikipedia
The role grit plays in success has become a major topic of discussion spearheaded by Angela Duckworth, an assistant professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. People who accomplished great things, Duckworth noticed, often combined a passion for a single mission with an unswerving dedication to achieve that mission, whatever the obstacles and however long it might take. She decided she needed to name this quality, and she chose the word “grit.”
The finding that most surprised Duckworth was that in the data she has analyzed, grit and talent either are not related at all or are actually inversely related. That was surprising because rationally speaking, if you’re good at things, one would think that you would invest more time in them. You’re getting more return on your investment per hour than someone who’s struggling.
In terms of academics, Duckworth notes, if you’re trying to get an A or an A-, and you’re a really talented kid, you may do your homework in a few minutes—whereas other kids might take much longer. You get to a certain level of proficiency, and then you stop. So, you actually work less hard.
If, on the other hand, you are not just trying to reach a specific cut point but are working to maximize your outcomes—you want to do as well as you possibly can—then there’s no limit, ceiling, or threshold. Your goal is, “How can I get the most out of my day?”
When I look at people whom I really respect and admire, like many of the top trial lawyers in the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA), these people are incredibly talented. However, nearly all of them did not necessarily have trial successes early on in their careers or go to a good law school—let alone show any type of academic achievement while in law school. Many of these top lawyers have enough money and should now be coasting. But they are not! Still, they work 17 hours a day. They are driven by more than money.
Duckworth notes that people who are, for lack of a better word, “ambitious”—the kids who are not satisfied with an A or even an A+, who have no limit to how much they want to understand, learn, or succeed—those are the people who are both talented and gritty. The most successful people in life are both talented and gritty in whatever they’ve chosen to do, she notes.
“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it,” said Estee Lauder.
“You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life,” said Heather Schuck in The Working Mom Manifesto.
So, we must also strive for work-life balance and not let our professional goals prevent us from achieving our personal goals. I want to wish everyone a healthy and happy New Year. May your New Year’s resolutions be realized through GRIT!