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True grit

A recent 99 percent article examined the relationship between achievement and a quality of self control called ‘grit’.

The article highlights a number of studies looking at the divide between talent (or intelligence) and the qualities that assist us in unlocking and delivering talent. So, looking at a large number of people, from Einstein to Darwin, right through to West Point graduates, musicians and finance bankers, and exploring what enabled those at the top of their field to unlock their talent, and in some cases, to succeed even where talent isn’t immediately obvious (apparently Darwin never considered himself an intelligence powerhouse).

One of the researches, psychologist Angela Duckworth, isolated those qualities that might serve as a predictor of outstanding talent:

  1. The tendency not to abandon tasks from mere changeability. Not seeking something because of novelty. Not “looking for a change.”
  2. The tendency not to abandon tasks in the face of obstacles. Perseverance, tenacity, doggedness.

Which Duckworth boils down to the quality of ‘grit’.

People who accomplished great things, [Duckworth] noticed, often combined a passion for a single mission with an unswerving dedication to achieve that mission, whatever the obstacles and however long it might take.

Seems some of us have … Read more

Embracing failure

Some choice words on professionalism, personal development and facing failure from legendary designer Milton Glaser.… Read more

Murakami on endurance and focus

I’m constantly drawn to writer’s talking about writing. I think it’s got something to do with the elusive ‘art-making’ process and that innate desire humans seem to have for finding the methodology of things (no matter how inapplicable it might be).

If there is some fibonacci sequence for writing, some part of it would likely be found gleaming in each drop of perspiration from great writers like Haruki Murakami. The 99 Percent recently highlighted Murakami’s thoughts on the subject of endurance and focus:

If you concentrate on writing three or four hours a day and feel tired after a week of this, you’re not going to be able to write a long work. What’s needed of the writer of fiction—at least one who hopes to write a novel—is the energy to focus every day for half a year, or a year, or two years.

Murakami, the author of no less than 12 novels, wrote in his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running on the links between learning to run long distance and the rigour required to write a novel:

Most of what I know about writing I’ve learned through running every day. These are practical, physical

Read more

Ira Glass on storytelling

Some choice words from Ira Glass on the gap between a writer’s perceived skill and ambition. How to keep ever increasing expectations at bay and focus instead on improving through perspiration, slowly constructing a step ladder to the work you aspire to create.… Read more

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