Friday, November 14, 2014

The Key to Success

The Key to Success
If you're at all like me, you've often wondered what the secret is to success. Why do some people, who are so blessed with intelligence, physical talent, and/or social support, fail where others--who lack these advantages--succeed? I've never seen a satisfactory explanation for this.

Until recently.

Image from
Have you ever observed this phenomenon firsthand? If you're a fan of American football, or have been a fan anytime in the last 10 years or so, you may have heard of JaMarcus Russell--a supremely talented quarterback who failed spectacularly in the NFL!
Dejected JaMarcus Russell wishes he had known about this research BEFORE entering the NFL
"Why do some people fail where others succeed?"

This effect occurs frequently in education (ever know any smart people who barely passed--or didn't pass--their classes, even though they understood the material?) and sometimes in business. 
Dr. Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania thinks she has found the answer. Dr. Duckworth and her colleagues have been conducting research on what she calls "grit" as a measure of success. Contrary to much current thinking on the topic, she says that 'grit,' or the desire to stick to a task until you've mastered it, may be a better predictor of achievement than traditional measures like IQ!

She boiled down 'grit' to two major components: persistence and passion. Persistence refers to someone's ability to persist in their efforts to accomplish a goal, and passion refers to a deep, powerful excitement about the topic.

Essentially, since successful people tend to be passionate about the goal they've committed to, they have the persistence to see it through, even in the face of challenges and failure. Perhaps the quality of 'grit' explains why some individuals redouble their efforts after failure, or when others laugh and say that they'll never achieve their goals (such as the well-meaning executive who told young Harrison Ford that he'd never get anywhere in the movie business). After all, in her TED talk on the topic, Dr. Duckworth insightfully mentioned that failure isn't final!

"Failure isn't final."
--Dr. Angela Duckworth
What does this mean for you, the Froogal individual? You can find out by reading an earlier article with my view of The Millionaire Mindset. My article is more focused on the financial habits of successful individuals, as opposed to a more generalized version of what constitutes success. Dr. Duckworth's contributions are more broadly useful than my own, particularly for such endeavors as career-building. However, as I illustrated in the article linked above, having a career that makes you big bucks doesn't do you much good if you can't manage it properly!
Here are some resources that summarize Dr. Duckworth's findings: 

If you would prefer to read some less-entertaining details, here are some links to scholarly papers on the topic: