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Is Grit still a key element for success even for the potentially wrong choices?

Angela gives Grit very high credit for success in this talk. I admit that this can be important contributing factors for things that are in the right direction. But what if we're persevering in things we truly not good at or not properly done? Will this grit be considered stubbornness?

  • Jul 15 2013: Wei Cheng,

    Thank you for pointing out the Angela Lee Duckworth video. I watched it and then left comments on that video.

    There is a saying that "Practice makes perfect". I had a martial arts instructor that once said "No, practice doesn't make perfect, Perfect practice makes perfect." I agree with him.

    As you point out, doing the wrong thing tenaciously, refusing to remain objective about the merits of a position you hold, or being delusional about your skills in one area can be a problem. Ideally, teachers and parents will have a more balanced perspective than children and offer truthful and honest constructive criticism to guide the child to the right path. Some of the lessons they should be taught include: to constantly review your position based on new input; be honest with yourself relative to your assessment of personal skills and talents; learn from your mistakes; and do not let lack of effort keep you from realizing a dream or getting to where you want to be in life. These are lessons that hopefully are learned at home with good parenting, but can also be fostered by good teaching at schools.

    However, there should be a "strength of will", "Strength of convictions" and personal confidence associated with these learning processes. The only way to build these is by challenging everything, including your peers, your teachers, what is generally believed, and what is generally accepted during your growth into an adult-and learn how to struggle effectively. As adults, we should reward the struggle as best we can, with the knowledge that lessons were learned, whether the position was proved valid or invalid. When battles are lost, we show them how to pick up the pieces and continue a different struggle the next day, learning form a battle not won. Perhaps, with time they will learn when a battle is worth fighting and when it is better either to accept a position, or continue to do your own investigation to build a case for a position you think to be stronger.
    • Jul 29 2013: Hi Robert,

      Glad to read your insightful comment. There are two key points I observed: 1. Path correction. 2. Remain objective of your position/strength.

      I agree with your first point. That there's no point persisting for the wrong things. By wrong I mean illegal or bad for people. It is heavily relies on the people around a person to correct the path.

      If the goal is benign, then it leads to the 2nd point. There're things we good at and things we don't. Shall we assess ourselves first and then chose the things we do best to persist?This would be a seasonable thing to do. But we can't neglect the emotional factor. Our lives are filled with interactions, incidents, surprises, gratitude, other people's influences..etc. Therefore we may have strong will to do something we may not have the strongest skill/strength. For example, if a mother lost her son to cancer she may want to start a foundation to seek solution for cancers. But in real life she may not be a good organizer or not a social person. But the strong will led her to manage these step by step and finally led to success.

      So in all I believe there's potential in everyone. One can achieve success quicker if he choose the thing he most good at and grit on it. But if you have strong will, no matter what you do given enough persistence you can reach the destination as well.
      • Jul 29 2013: I agree we can not neglect the emotional factor, but I think also we cannot let it dominate the course changes we make to achieve the bigger goals in life. Hopefully, we have clarity in vision and our will forces us to continue towards our goals. Goals may change, as we constantly re-evaluate based on new information, but we need to be vigiliant about applying the work and persistence to achieve the goal.

        There are two sides to the concept of only doing what you are good at. One side, as you point out , is that you will likely have the most success and achieve success quicker doing these things. The other side is that if you only do those things you are good at, you increase the disparity between your weakness and what you are good at, thus creating a less balanced total set of skills. I would argue the former is probably good for adults as the make a living, and the latter a good position for students and adults in a learning phase of life. I think it takes more grit to work on the things you need to improve and that do not come easy to you.

        You are right, emotion can be a strong source of grit. In the example,the mother uses her emotional loss to provide the grit she needs to overcome skills she does not have to build a cancer foundation. Here the primary goal is not to build the best foundation, or do it the quickest, but rather to provide a mother to use the love she had for her son as the fuel to enable her to find peace through creating a foundation to help others.

        I agree that persistence and tenacity of will can enable relatively unskilled people to work through problems they ordinarily would not be able to solve. This is grit.

        However, after they solve the problem, they now know how to do it and have the confidence they can do it. they also have the confidence that they can solve similar things without specialized skills. This is sort of a grit dividend.
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    Jul 29 2013: "Sometimes losing an illusion is harder than finding a truth." --???
  • Jul 17 2013: There are situations that a person was pressed into some tasks or careers which he was not really interested. But some of them did succeed. In my opinion, a person with "TRUE GRIT" would strive and succeed if he recognized that it was the his only chance, otherwise he couldn't survive or had no way out of his dilemma. In other word, one has to take whatever he is given (the opportunity), and give his best even to something he doesn't like that much to start with. Of course, one would like to get out of such dilemma if possible, but he should consider what would happen if he drops out and is not given or allowed any chance of trying to do what he likes.
    • Jul 29 2013: Opportunity for things not interested can be seen as a step-ladder for one's ultimate goals. Otherwise easy is the attention to be diverted to other things, let along grit. So in all, I support your point.