36) Grit by Angela Duckworth
So this is an interesting book. I was biased towards it from the start, having long been of the view that most of the good stuff takes perseverance, something I’ve written about a few times in different ways. This book, based on years of research, puts some evidence and substance behind that common-sensical observation. In short, Grit is passion + perseverance in the pursuit of a larger purpose. Which is what the book is all about – talent can only take you so far, but talent and effort (ideally, deliberate practice), with a sense of purpose and what you want to achieve, can go a lot further.
More interestingly, from my perspective, is how much having ‘grit’ is a predictor of success in life, career, work: much more so than, say, intelligence or IQ tests. Some of that (as with many of these books) feels like common sense, but there is something liberating about realising that, as the book says, “a high level of performance…is an accretion of mundane acts” and the importance of keeping “putting one foot in front of the other”. Obsessing about ‘talent’, in a blue-chip McKinsey kind of way, “distracts us from that simple truth”. At one point, Duckworth refers to an article called “The Mundanity of Excellence” which would have made a great subtitle for the book.
The second half of the book waned a bit for me: there’s only so many times you can be introduced to a ‘grit paragon’, even if several of them seem to be American Football players (a personal love). Indeed, the book may ‘jump the shark’ at the point when the author meets [famous San Francisco 49er quarterback] Steve Young and finds out that his dad was nicknamed ‘Grit’. There are also chapters on being a gritty parent and all that sort of stuff which felt a bit like 50-odd pages of saying the same things in different ways. And there’s also a fair bit that’s familiar to anyone who reads this sort of book (like ‘deliberate practice’ which has become known as the 10,000 hour rule, popularised by Malcolm Gladwell et al).
Nevertheless, there’s so much of interest here: for anyone really. Whether you are starting something up, trying to get better at your job, looking to find your passion in life (‘discover, develop, deepen’), thinking about who you hire, or how you find the energy to carry on, Grit has something for you. And, given that, it comes highly recommended.
BUY IT HERE: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance