Welcome to the latest edition of our irregular and irreverent newsletter. Let’s get started.
THE SECRETS OF GRIT: 4 QUESTIONS FOR ANGELA DUCKWORTH
Grit. By now you’ve probably heard the term. It’s one of the biggest ideas in social science in the last decade — the brainchild of Angela Duckworth, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, winner of a MacArthur “genius” grant, and founder and co-director of Character Lab.
This week Angela is publishing a book on the topic titled — you got it — Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Buy it at Amazon, BN.com, or IndieBound). I had a chance to read the manuscript awhile back — and it’s one of the smartest, most compelling non-fiction books I’ve read in years. Mark my words: People are going to be reading and talking about this book for a long, long time.
I asked Angela to be our latest participant in 4Q4 — our semi-regular feature in which I ask authors four questions about their books, the same four questions every time.
1. Angela, what’s the big idea?
Talent is one thing; what you do with it is another. We admire “naturals” – people we think have succeeded because of their innate ability. But as much as talent counts, effort counts twice. Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals—and it is what turns talent into skill, and skill into achievement.
2. How do you know?
The idea that the last mile is the hardest has been around for all eternity. What’s new is the science. I’ve studied grit in all sorts of settings, from West Point to the National Spelling Bee, in urban high school students, sales representatives, and professional athletes — and I now have an understanding of the roots of passion and perseverance. My advice on grit is based on this research.
3. Why should we care?
Every one of us is ambitious. We want to be our best selves. We want to be proud of what we’ve accomplished. We want to solve problems and help people. Too often, we don’t realize those ambitions because we don’t finish what we start. I believe that by emulating the beliefs and habits of exemplars of grit—I call them grit paragons—we can cultivate our own passion and perseverance.
4. What should I do?
There’s lots of advice in the book, but here are three ideas to get you started:
1. Take the Grit Scale to see how gritty you are right now.
2. If you’re a parent, try to be both supportive and demanding. (Being supportive without high standards is too permissive. Being demanding without offering support is too authoritarian).
3. Learn from grit paragons. Watch how they pursue their interests, how they practice, and how they maintain a sense of purpose.
HEY, KID, WANT A FREE SHORT VIDEO?
Earlier this spring, I tried an experiment. I created 4 short, informal, low-fi videos — called Pinkcasts — that I sent over 4 weeks to more than 4,000 beta-testers.
These extremely generous souls offered some sharp, sophisticated, and occasionally searing feedback. And when the experiment ended, I decided we had something worth pursuing. In a subsequent survey, our 4,000-person focus group agreed. 96% of the beta-testers said they wanted me to continue.
And that’s what I’m doing.
Below is the very first “official” Pinkcast. It’s an 81-second video on the one question we can ask ourselves to make better decisions.
I’ll be distributing Pinkcasts twice a month via email — on the first and third Tuesdays of every month. But I don’t want to send them to you simply because you signed up for this newsletter.
So if you’d like to subscribe to the Pinkcasts — and get those two short videos each month — just click this link. (Like the newsletter, they’re free of charge and free of advertising and you can opt-out any time).
Whether you watch just one Pinkcast or stick with the videos for our entire first season, I hope you enjoy them and find them useful.
More info: Pinkcasts
That’s all for this edition. As always, thanks for reading our humble newsletter.