I recently wrote about “Why I do operations.” My thesis was that you need to connect with who you are and find your passion to maximize your success.
There’s a new book, Grit by Angela Duckworth, that instantly made the New York Times bestseller list. One of the well-researched points of Grit is that the people who really worked to achieve are the ones who really achieve; she studied concert pianists, athletes, and people who made it through West Point, to understand the difference between those that achieve stunning success and all the ones that never make it. She arrives at this basic conclusion:
“as much as talent counts, effort counts twice.”
A lot of times there is a bias towards talent. In America, when asked, people claim that they would rather hire or invest in a hard worker rather than someone who is naturally talented, but, upon investigation who is that is actually hired or funded? It is the “naturals” who are considered talented even though they might not be the grittiest. However, it is grit, not innate talent, that is needed for long-term term and sustained success.
The book goes on to illustrate this bias, how the market is skewed, and who we actually reward. Tracking children in gifted and talented programs, a lot of times we leave behind children who have great potential. Some go on to great things, working so hard that they succeed against the odds.
In the most general sense, talent is the sum of a person’s abilities—his or her intrinsic gifts, skills, knowledge, experience, intelligence, judgment, attitude, character, and drive.
Duckworth talks about finding your passion, that thing you are obsessed with, that thing you cannot help doing and focusing and building around it. Making that core connection is one of the most important building blocks you have for being incredibly successful. Allowing yourself to really, truly focus on your one thing as opposed to doing several things with less intensity maximize your chances for success.
“…doing one thing better and better might be more satisfying than staying an amateur at many different things:”
This message is hugely validating, especially when you are immersed in a culture like Silicon Valley where many VCs want to fund college dropouts hoping to find the next Zuckerberg. Here, if you don’t make the Forbes “30 under 30” list you are a failure. This hype around perceived natural talent is just that. Hype. An illusion. If you want something, stick it out and keep slogging. That is the best thing you can do. It is scientifically proven.