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Learning to prefer passion over talent “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” By Angela Duckworth

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Which is better, to have natural talent or to have passion? Is it better to be good at something from the start or is it better to work hard to achieve progress? Why do we put so much emphasis on natural talent and not hard work? These are some of the questions asked by Angela Duckworth, a psychologist and author of the book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.”

With a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard in neurobiology, a Master of Science in neuroscience from the University of Oxford and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Phoenix, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” Duckworth’s first book, talks about her experience and research into what makes some people succeed while others quit. She suggests the answer is not that some people are naturally better than others, it’s that some people have what she calls ‘grit.’

“It was this combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special. In a word, they had grit (Page 8),” writes Duckworth.

So, she began to try to quantify ‘grit.’ Duckworth explores talent and how that effects people’s grit carry them forward in life. She found that people tend to rank talent above hard work.

“The ‘naturalness bias’ is a hidden prejudice against those who’ve achieved what they have because they worked for it and a hidden preference for those whom we think arrived at their place in life because they’re naturally talented. We may not admit to others this bias for naturals; we may not even admit it to ourselves. But the bias is evident in the choices we make (Page 25),” writes Duckworth.

This compelling book gives many examples of people that show what grit really is.

“‘No one can see in the work of the artist how it has become,’ Nietzsche said. ‘That is its advantage, for wherever one can see the act of becoming one grows somewhat cool.’ In other words, we want to believe that Mark Spitz was born to swim in a way that none of us were and that none of us could. We don’t want to sit on the pool deck and watch him progress from amateur to expert. We prefer our excellence fully formed. We prefer mystery to mundanity (Page 39),” wrote Duckworth.

“‘Our vanity, our self-love, promotes the cult of the genius,’ Nietzsche said. ‘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.’”

The greatness of these quotes and the way she uses them really makes readers think. Many people think that just because you can’t do something right off-the-bat, means that you can’t do it at all. She points out that our current culture values an “instant gratification” type of mentality versus hard work.

If you’re looking for an interesting read, one that might just help you better your professional life, look no further. The most compelling and intriguing part of this book is that Duckworth tells you something you already know, but have never really thought about.

“Many of us, it seems, quit what we start far too early and far too often. Even more than the effort a gritty person puts in on a single day, what matters is that they wake up the next day, and the next, ready to get on that treadmill and keep going (Page 50).”


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Kyle Dowling

Kyle Dowling is an employee of M3 Group and is pursuing a writing degree at LCC. He enjoys fiction writing, video games and movies.