Effort or Talent – What’s More Important?

effort or talent

Call it grit or determination or something else. – it is what fuels our desire to go after and complete a goal. Sadly, it seems in the last few generations, we haven’t preached the virtues of grit. There seem to be a few reasons why.

First of all there has been this idea that if we wish for something in just the right way the universe will serve it up. Books like, “The Secret” have led people to believe that there is power in merely wanting. But wishing for something isn’t the same as working for it.

Secondly, we have had what’s been called the wussification of America. Political correctness has determined that everyone is a winner – there are no losers. We give every kid a trophy just for being on the team. And so what’s the point of trying harder if your reward is the same as the other guy who sucks, doesn’t try and couldn’t care less?

Effort has been minimized. But it shouldn’t be.

According to research done by Carol Dweck at Stanford University, people who believe success is the result of effort more than talent are ultimately more successful. In other words, hard work trumps ability. Persistence beats smarts.

Paul Stoltz has been researching this phenomenon and discusses it brilliantly in his new book, GRIT: The New Science of What it Takes to Persevere, Flourish, Succeed. He says the quality and quantity of grit you have is a great predictor of your future success. “Grit predicts the magnitude of your goals, the percentage of them you complete and it predicts your ability of improving your station life.”

The fact is and what we have forgotten to some extent says Paul is that:

Digging deep, working hard and even struggling is a real important part of not just learning but achieving anything meaningful in life.

Parents who don’t raise their kids to develop this attitude of determination are doing them a great disservice. And often those parents end up with a kid who still lives at home long after other kids have left the nest.
In addition to describing the trait well, Paul has developed an acronym for grit:

• Growth
• Resilience
• Instinct
• Tenacity

When goals are not realized and when things fail, Paul believes it is often because your mental determination and physical effort are out of alignment. He calls it the “Why” and the “Try.” In other words, if you are really mentally motivated and want something but you don’t put in the effort – you will fail. Conversely, if you try really hard to achieve a goal but you aren’t really all that motivated, you won’t sustain the effort and you will fail. The trick is to put your “why” and your “try” in alignment. When they are, great things happen.

If you don’t have grit, you will flounder. You may still get the trophy for showing up along with everybody else but you will never achieve what you say you want. Anyone can develop more grit. It starts with understanding that it is an essential ingredient if you want to get ahead anywhere.

What do you think? Please join the discussion by adding a comment using the comments box at the bottom of this webpage. And please share this on Twitter or Facebook if you found it interesting.

photo credit: Balthus Van Tassel via photopin cc

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  1. Perspiration and Inspiration together.

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