Monday, March 14, 2011

Persistence and Success

Similar to the view that the easiest way to screw up your kids is to praise them for being smart rather than working hard (Parenting), Jonah Lehrer in Wired, notes what many of us (hopefully) already realize - success isn't easy, often isn't exciting, isn't the result of extraordinary intelligence but rather, extraordinary perseverance (Wired):

While [the growing recognition of “non-cognitive” skills like grit and self-control are] traits have little or nothing to do with intelligence (as measured by IQ scores), they often explain a larger share of individual variation when it comes to life success. It doesn’t matter if one is looking at retention rates at West Point or teacher performance within Teach for America or success in the spelling bee: Factors like grit are often the most predictive variables of real world performance. Thomas Edison was right: even genius is mostly just perspiration.

Taken together, these studies suggest that our most important talent is having a talent for working hard, for practicing even when practice isn’t fun. It’s about putting in the hours when we’d rather be watching TV, or drilling ourselves with notecards filled with obscure words instead of getting quizzed by a friend. Success is never easy. Talent requires grit.

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