In her extensive research, psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth found that more than IQ or talent or any other factor, the #1 predictor of a person’s success is their unwavering commitment to a long-term goal… in other words, their grit. (Watch Angela’s TED Talk and listen to her on NPR below.)

Angela Lee Duckworth says – “Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.” Grit is having stamina and working really hard to make a future you envision a reality.

Yesterday I spoke with Dr. April, a family practice physician. In the later stages of her career, she was ready to decrease her dependency on clinical practice for her income. Interested in having an impact as a teacher and leader, she had two questions:

  1. Am I too old to start down this path?
  2. Can I acquire the skills I will need?

After she told me she plans to continue working for 5-10 more years, I asked her “what issue in medicine really bothers you?” She shared how it made no sense to her the low levels of emotional intelligence and effective communication she found in medical practices. “How can people talk to each other like that? Don’t they see they impact of their communication?” She was convinced that this one change would make a huge difference for both patients and physicians.

At this stage of her career, Dr. April had already demonstrated talent and perseverance. How else can you get through medical school!

The Success Equation, based on Angela Lee Duckworth research shows:

Talent x effort = skills
Skills x effort = achievement

Talent is the raw material that when combined with effort can create skills. Notice that effort is in the equation twice – in skill development and in skill application.

With this perspective, Dr. April knew she could be successful. Her passion to improve communication for physicians would be her compass, pointing her in the right direction over time. “Gritty” people resolve to create a better future!

Listen to Angela Lee Duckworth on NPR here.

Watch her TED Talk below.

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