Are you convinced that successful people are accomplished because they are highly talented in a particular area?
Angela Duckworth in her book GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance describes countless research studies demonstrating that individuals who rise to the top exhibit both passion and grit to achieve their goals. In other words, talent is really derived from the willingness to put in continuous extra effort to practice, practice practice.
But, you may ask, what about genes? Could there be a genetic predisposition that can contribute to one’s talent?
Michael Phelps , the 23-gold medalist olympic swimmer has a disproportionately longer arm span measuring 6’ – 7” to his 6’-4” frame. This difference gives him a body composition that is genetically suitable for swimming. While his unique physical structure might provide some slight advantage, research shows again and again it takes more than your gene pool to win. In other words, achievement goes beyond IQ scores and any genetic predisposition toward a particular skill or talent.
Duckworth’s research tells us that high achievers have both determination, passion and purpose. They are willing to put in the extra effort to achieve their goals. In fact “effort counts twice,” she notes.
So is it just a matter of putting in more time to become accomplished?
Well, yes, but it’s about putting in quality time on a focused task known as deliberate practice.
Deliberate practice is a key component of grit to achieve your desired outcome.
Here are the key habits of deliberate practice:
A clearly defined stretch goal
– Rather than focus on what you already know, zero into a specific weakness to improve.
Full concentration and effort
– Many practice alone, focused on one task or one skill to improve.
Immediate and informative feedback
– Have mentors, coaches, colleagues and others provide you with feedback.
Repetition with reflection and refinement
– If you aren’t gaining results, change your approach. Constantly evaluate and try new techniques to achieve your goals.
Practicing smaller tasks can be mundane and you might find yourself saying:
- I am bored
- The effort isn’t worth it
- This isn’t important to me
- I can’t do this, so I should just give it
There is nothing wrong with these thoughts. They may be a signal that something misaligned. Perhaps the goal or activity lacks interest or enjoyment.
Here are some questions to guide you forward:
- Reconsider your tasks at hand in the context of your values. Do they align with what is important to you? What you value?
- How do these tasks fit into your large goals and purpose?
- How can you turn the repetition or the task of practicing into a game or challenge
- Reflect on what brings you joy What is it about what you are doing that you love?
Grit evokes tremendous discipline that keeps you on track and helps you to stick to your highest goal for the long term. Setbacks are temporary. Failure happens. But when you reach down inside of yourself and find the power and passion to put in the extra effort you will achieve your greatest potential.
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