Perseverance and passion matter more than IQ and talent

Closing statements from a study on grit:

In a qualitative study of the development of world-class pianists,
neurologists, swimmers, chess players, mathematicians, and sculptors,
Bloom (1985) noted that “only a few of [the 120 talented
individuals in the sample] were regarded as prodigies by teachers,
parents, or experts” (p. 533). Rather, accomplished individuals
worked day after day, for at least 10 or 15 years, to reach the top
of their fields. Bloom observed that in every studied field, the
general qualities possessed by high achievers included a strong
interest in the particular field, a desire to reach “a high level of
attainment” in that field, and a “willingness to put in great amounts
of time and effort” (p. 544). Similarly, in her study of prodigies
who later made significant contributions to their field, Winner
(1996) concluded, “Creators must be able to persist in the face of
difficulty and overcome the many obstacles in the way of creative
discovery…. Drive and energy in childhood are more predictive
of success, if not creativity, than is IQ or some other more
domain-specific ability” (p. 293).

The qualitative insights of Winner (1996), Bloom (1985), and
Galton (1892), coupled with evidence gathered by the current
investigation and its forerunners, suggest that, in every field, grit
may be as essential as talent to high accomplishment. If substantiated,
this conclusion has several practical implications: First,
children who demonstrate exceptional commitment to a particular
goal should be supported with as many resources as those identified
as “gifted and talented.” Second, as educators and parents, we
should encourage children to work not only with intensity but also
with stamina. In particular, we should prepare youth to anticipate
failures and misfortunes and point out that excellence in any
discipline requires years and years of time on task. Finally, liberal
arts universities that encourage undergraduates to sample broadly
should recognize the ineluctable trade-off between breadth and
depth. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, the goal of an education
is not just to learn a little about a lot but also a lot about a little.

Read the full article here. Angela Duckworth also has a phenomenal book on the topic of grit that I highly recommend.

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