Saturday, May 12, 2018

Review: "Grit" by Angela Duckworth

Image result for grit by angela duc

Book: Grit
Type: Non-Fiction 
Pages- 277
Publishing house: Vermilion 

This New York Times Bestseller has got 3 parts:

Part 1: What Grit is and Why it matters.
Part 2: Growing Grit from the Inside Out.
Part 3: Growing Grit from the Outside In.

If we go by the definition of Grit on the web, it means mental toughness and courage. But the author in her book wants to portray Grit as something else and more important. According to her, Grit is more about stamina than intensity. Grit has got two components – Passion and Perseverance. And she further explains each and minute things related to it and around.
She asserts that highly accomplished ones are paragons of perseverance. She questions the basic notion of ‘being talented’ and conveys how people prefer ‘hardworking over intelligence’. She pitches in the question about what is more important to success? Talent or effort?

Is talent a bad thing? Are we equally talented? No and no. The ability to quickly climb the learning curve of any skill is obviously a very good thing, and, like it or not, some of us are better at it than others. So why, then, is it such a bad thing to favour ‘naturals’ over ‘strivers’? Whats the downside of television shows like America’s Got Talent, The X-factor, and Child Genius? Why shouldn’t we separate children as young as seven or eight into 2 groups: those few children who are ‘gifted and talented’ and the many, many more who aren’t? What harm is there, in a talent show being named a ‘talent show’? In my view, the biggest reason a preoccupation with talent can be harmful is simple: By shining our spotlight on talent, we risk leaving everything else in the shadows. We inadvertently send the message that these other factors- including grit- don’t matter as much as they really do.

She also writes about What talent means and why we use that word that often?

With everything perfect, we do not ask how it came to be. We rejoice in the present fact as though it came out if the ground by magic. Our vanity, our self-love, promotes the cult of the genius. For if we think of genius as something magical, we are not obliged to compare ourselves and find ourselves lacking. To call someone ‘divine’ means: ‘here there is no need to compete’

She believes that Talent * Effort = Skill and Skill * Effort = Achievement. Eighty percent of success in life is showing up, is what she tells as she quotes Woody Allen. She has also developed Grit scale which determines how gritty you are. Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare. One of the underlying notions of her theory is that one should stick to the cause. It is perseverance and endurance that is going to make this journey more wonderful and amazing.

Fireworks erupt in a blaze of glory but quickly fizzle, leaving just wisps of smoke and a memory of what was once spectacular. What Jeff's journey suggests instead is the passion as a compass- that thing that takes you some time to build, tinker with, and finally get right, and that then guides you on your long and winding road to where, ultimately, you want to be.

She also believes that grit grows. Many believe that grit is like height. You can’t train height and alike is the grit. But she explains in further chapters about how Grit can be developed and mastered. She lists down the psychological assets that mature paragons of grit have in common. There are four:
a.       Interest
b.       Practice
c.       Purpose
d.       Hope
She further explains each asset in detail in 2nd part of her book. Though I would like to brief about the first one as it is more unconventional and groundbreaking.

Follow your passion was not the message I heard growing up. Instead, I was told that the practical realities of surviving “in the real world” were far more important than any young person living a “sheltered life” such as my own could imagine. I was warned that overly idealistic dreams of “finding something I loved” could, in fact, be a breadcrumb trail into poverty and disappointment. I was reminded that certain jobs, like being a doctor, were both high- income and high- status and that these things would matter more to me in the long run than I might appreciate at the moment.
As you might have guessed, the individual proffering this advice was my dad.
“So, why’d you become a chemist?” I once asked
“Because my father told me to,” he answered without a hint of resentment. “When I was a boy, history was my favourite subject.” He then explained that he’d enjoyed math and science, too,  but there was really no choice when it came to what he’d study in college. The family business was textiles, and my grandfather dispatched each of his sons to study trade relevant to one stage or another of textile production. “Our business needed a chemist, not a historian” As it turned out, the communist revolution in China brought a premature end to the family textile business. Not long after he settled here in the United States, my dad went to work for DuPont. 35 years later, he retired as the highest-ranking scientist in the company. Given how absorbed my dad was in his work- often lost in reverie about some scientific or management problems- and how successful he was over the arc of his career, it seems worth considering the possibility that its best to choose practicality over passion.

Angela challenges the notion of “follow your passion” in her book and writes about different factors that help shape one’s.

I have a lot of sympathy for the thirty-something who wrote this post. I also have a lot of sympathy for the twenty-somethings who come to me for career advice. My colleague Barry Schwartz has been dispensing counsel to anxious young adults for much longer than I have. He has been teaching psychology at Swarthmore College for 45 years. Barry thinks that what prevents a lot of young people from developing a serious career interest is an unrealistic expectation.  “Its really the same problem a lot of young people have finding a romantic partner. They want somebody who is really attractive and smart and kind and empathetic and thoughtful and funny. Try selling a twenty- one-year old that you cant find a person who is absolutely the best in every way. They don’t listen, They are holding out for perfection.
What about your wonderful wife, Myrna?” I asked
“Oh, she is wonderful. More wonderful than I am, certainly. But is she perfect? Is she the only person I could have made a happy life with? Am I the only man with whom she could have made a wonderful marriage? I don’t think so.”
A related problem, Barry says, is the mythology that falling in love with a career should be sudden and swift: “There are a lot of things where the subtleties and exhilarations come with sticking with it for a while, getting elbow-deep into something. A lot of things seem uninteresting and superficial until you start doing them and, after a while, you realize that there are so many facets you didn’t know at the start, and you never can fully solve the problem, or fully understand it, or what have you. Well, that requires that you stick with it” After a pause, Barry said, “ Actually finding a mate is the perfect analogy. Meeting a potential match- not the one-and-only perfect match, but a promising one- is only the very beginning.”

It's not about falling in love but its more about staying in love. Passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.
Grit is a wonderful book with passages and thoughts that could be and should be quoted again and again. Paul Tough explains about the book more beautifully. He says “Fascinating. Angela Duckworth pulls together decades of psychological research, inspiring success stories from business and sports, and her own unique personal experience and distils it all into a set of practical strategies to make yourself and your children more motivated, more passionate, and more persistent at work and at school”

One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is her writing style. Angela Duckworth seems to be exploring alongside us(reader) as we flip through the pages. She gets surprised by the notions, seems to be intuitive about the discoveries and tries to get the reader through the conundrum. Ultimately you have a pleasant and smooth experience which is the main and ultimate motto for every writer.

Verdict: Solid One. it helps you to build a strong foundation or strengthen the same for your goals and aspirations. Grit gives you a new perspective. 


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