Why do some succeed, often spectacularly so, and others merely survive? What human trait is the best predictor of success? Which human trait should we focus on? Intelligence is the best documented predictor of human success BUT it does not automatically follow that intelligence is the primary driver of human success.
Grit was the subject of a 2007 article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 92, No. 6, pp. 1087-1101). Grit was defined as “perseverance and passion for long term goals; the tendency to work strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity and plateaus in progress.”
For whatever reason “most individuals make use of only a small part of their resources, whereas a few exceptional individuals push themselves to their limits…. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon, his or her advantage is stamina. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course.”
The good news is twofold:
1. Grit rivaled innate intelligence as a predictor and driver of success: “Perseverance is at least as crucial as intelligence.”
2. Grit is a learnable ability, a set of skills much like any other that can be acquired, studied, and emulated from role models, if the drive and desire to do so exists.
“Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental resources.” — William James