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Key to success? Grit

  • Transcript of “The key to success? Grit”
    Leaving a high-flying job in consulting, Angela Lee Duckworth took a job teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school. She quickly realized that IQ wasn’t the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. Her theory of “grit” as a predictor of success.
     Mar 9, 2014

When I was 27 years old, I left a very demanding job in management consulting for a job that was even more demanding: teaching.

I went to teach 7th graders math in the New York City public schools. And like any teacher, I made quizzes and tests. I gave out homework assignments. When the work came back, I calculated grades.

0:35 What struck me was that IQ was not the only difference between my best and my worst students. Some of my strongest performers did not have stratospheric IQ scores. Some of my smartest kids weren’t doing so well.

that got me thinking. The kinds of things you need to learn in seventh grade math, sure, they’re hard: ratios, decimals, the area of a parallelogram. But these concepts are not impossible, and I was firmly convinced that every one of my students could learn the material if they worked hard and long enough.

After several more years of teaching, I came to the conclusion that what we need in education is a much better understanding of students and learning from a motivational perspective, from a psychological perspective.

In education, the one thing we know how to measure best is IQ. But what if doing well in school and in life depends on much more than your ability to learn quickly and easily?

I left the classroom, and I went to graduate school to become a psychologist.

I started studying kids and adults in all kinds of super challenging settings, and in every study my question was, who is successful here and why? My research team and I went to West Point Military Academy.

We tried to predict which cadets would stay in military training and which would drop out. We went to the National Spelling Bee and tried to predict which children would advance farthest in competition. We studied rookie teachers working in really tough neighborhoods, asking which teachers are still going to be here in teaching by the end of the school year, and of those, who will be the most effective at improving learning outcomes for their students?

We partnered with private companies, asking, which of these salespeople is going to keep their jobs? And who’s going to earn the most money?

In all those very different contexts, one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. And it wasn’t social intelligence. It wasn’t good looks, physical health, and it wasn’t IQ. It was grit.

Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.

Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.

Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

A few years ago, I started studying grit in the Chicago public schools. I asked thousands of high school juniors to take grit questionnaires, and then waited around more than a year to see who would graduate.

Turns out that grittier kids were significantly more likely to graduate, even when I matched them on every characteristic I could measure, things like family income, standardized achievement test scores, even how safe kids felt when they were at school.

it’s not just at West Point or the National Spelling Bee that grit matters. It’s also in school, especially for kids at risk for dropping out.

To me, the most shocking thing about grit is how little we know, how little science knows, about building it.

Every day, parents and teachers ask me, “How do I build grit in kids? What do I do to teach kids a solid work ethic? How do I keep them motivated for the long run?”

The honest answer is, I don’t know. (Laughter) What I do know is that talent doesn’t make you gritty.

Our data show very clearly that there are many talented individuals who simply do not follow through on their commitments. In fact, in our data, grit is usually unrelated or even inversely related to measures of talent. (Yet, we don’t acquire talent without perseverance)

So far, the best idea I’ve heard about building grit in kids is something called “growth mindset.”

This is an idea developed at Stanford University by Carol Dweck, and it is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed, that it can change with your effort. Dr. Dweck has shown that when kids read and learn about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenge, they’re much more likely to persevere when they fail, because they don’t believe that failure is a permanent condition.

So growth mindset is a great idea for building grit. But we need more. And that’s where I’m going to end my remarks, because that’s where we are. That’s the work that stands before us.

We need to take our best ideas, our strongest intuitions, and we need to test them.

We need to measure whether we’ve been successful, and we have to be willing to fail, to be wrong, to start over again with lessons learned.

5:55 In other words, we need to be gritty about getting our kids grittier.

 

Raising Kids During Exponential Times

How do you raise kids today during these exponential times?

Should they learn a second language… in a world of instant translation?

Should they ever memorize any fact… in a world of ubiquitous Google?

Will college even exist in 10 years’ time?

Which is more important? Learning to code or learning sports?

As a father of twin 4-year-old boys, these questions are on my mind. (My wife may have a different point of view as an artist).

This blog is one parent’s opinion.

When I was 10 years old…

When I was 10 years old, the first electronic calculators came out, and my dad didn’t want to buy me one because he felt it would weaken my math skills.

Eventually he did buy me one, and rather than dampen my skills, I learned programming on my Texas Instruments TI-58.

But times do change.

Compared to the basic curriculum 100 years ago, the basics no longer include:

  • Growing our own food
  • Making our own clothing… needlework
  • Greek, Latin or type setting

If predictions come true, namely that robotics and artificial intelligence will displace 50 percent of today’s jobs in 20 years’ time, what should your kid(s) study today?

I often keynote Fortune 500 events and one persistent question from the audience is: “So, Peter, what will you teach your kids given this explosion of exponential technologies?”

Near-Term… Coding, machine learning, or Physics

In the near term (this next decade) the lingua franca is coding and machine learning. Any kid graduating college with these skills today can get a job.

But this too, will be disrupted in the near future by A.I.

Long-Term… It’s Passion, Curiosity, Imagination, Critical Thinking, and Grit

I imagine a future in which robotics and A.I. will allow any of us, from ages 18 to 108, to easily and quickly find answers, create products and accomplish tasks, all simply by expressing our desires.

From “mind to manufactured in moments” – in short, we’ll be able to do and create almost whatever we want.

In such a future, I believe there are five critical attributes our children need to learn to become successful in their adult life:

1. PASSION: You’d be amazed at how many people don’t have a mission in life. A calling, something to jolt them out of bed every morning.

For my kids, I want to support them in finding their passion or purpose. Something uniquely theirs.

For me, it was exploring outer space. I LOVE space. Apollo and Star Trek ignited my flames. As much as my parents wanted me to become a physician, I was truly (and still am) a space cadet.

My goal for my 4-year-olds is to expose them to as many ideas as I can, and then fan the flames on whatever they want to do.

(One of my closest friends loved playing video games in high school. Today he’s one of the world’s top video game designers. You can create a career from any passion!)

2. CURIOSITY: The next attribute that is critical during exponential times is curiosity. It is something that is innate in kids and yet something that most people lose over time.

In a world of Google, robots and A.I., raising a kid that is constantly asking questions and running “what if” experiments can be extremely valuable.

This is mostly because running constant experiments is fundamentally necessary on the path to success.

As Jeff Bezos said about success and innovation: “The way I think about it, if you want to invent, if you want to do any innovation, anything new, you’re going to have failures because you need to experiment. I think the amount of useful invention you do is directly proportional to the number of experiments you can run per week per month per year.”

I constantly ask my kids “what if” questions.

And if they ask, “What if…?” encourage them. Help paint the picture…

And try to help them create an experiment to test that hypothetical situation.

3. IMAGINATION: Entrepreneurs and visionaries imagine the world (and the future) they want to live in, and then they create it. Kids happen to be some of the most imaginative humans around… it is critical that they know how important and liberating imagination can be.

Imagination goes hand in hand with curiosity and passion.

Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group, writes: “Imagination is one of humanity’s greatest qualities – without it, there would be no innovation, advancement or technology, and the world would be a very dull place.”

To my kids, the world is certainly not a dull place.

4. CRITICAL THINKING: In a world flooded with often-conflicting ideas, baseless claims, misleading headlines, negative news and misinformation, you have to think critically to find the signal in the noise.

Critical thinking is probably the hardest lesson to teach kids.

It takes time and experience, and you have to reinforce habits like investigation, curiosity, skepticism, and so on.

If you have ever talked to four-year-olds, you’re probably familiar with the “Why?” game.

It goes something like this:

Parent (enthusiastically): “It’s time to go to school!”

Kid: “Why?”

Parent: “Because you have to learn how to read and do math.”

Kid: “Why?”

Parent: “Because knowing how to read and do math is important.”

Kid: “Why?”

Parent (starts to get agitated): “Because… I said so!”

Kid: “Why?”

You get the idea.

My advice: Try not to BS them! Try to play this game and help them reason through complicated ideas and topics.

This game, though they don’t even know it, is the basis for critical thinking, and it’s up to you as a parent to encourage them and guide them through the questions.

5. GRIT: One of my favorite phrases these days is from Ray Kurzweil: “You’ve just got to live long enough to live forever.”

Though I take it quite literally, it’s also a metaphor for persisting through challenges until you succeed.

Grit is seen as “passion and perseverance in pursuit of long-term goals,” and it has recently been widely acknowledged as one of the most important predictors of and contributors to success.

Teaching your kids that they can’t fail… is critical.

Heck, much of my success comes from not giving up. I joke that both XPRIZE and Zero-G were both “overnight successes after 10 years of hard work.”

You have to make a conscious effort to encourage your kids to keep trying, even if they mess up.

Join Me

Our kids are growing up in the most exciting time ever. You’re living in it too.

This is the sort of conversation we discuss at my 250-person executive mastermind group called Abundance 360.

The program is highly selective and we’re almost full, looking for a few last CEOs and entrepreneurs who want to change the world. You can apply here.

Share this email with your friends, especially if they are interested in any of the areas outlined above.

P.S. I’ve just released a podcast with my dear friend Dan Sullivan called Exponential Wisdom.

Our conversations focus on the exponential technologies creating abundance, the human-technology collaboration, and entrepreneurship. Head here to listen and subscribe: a360.com/podcast

P.P.S. Every weekend I send out a “Tech Blog” like this one. If you want to sign up, go to PeterDiamandis.com and sign up for this and my Abundance blogs.

Patsy Z shared this link on July 22, 2015

For all parents out there. Please read this blog post written by Peter H. Diamandis himself, as a visionary man and as a father…
It’s extremely helpful, especially when you think about the eternal question:

“what will you teach your kids given this explosion of exponential technologies?”

How do you raise kids today during these exponential times?
Should they learn a second language… in a world of instant translation?
Should they ever memorize any fact… in a world of ubiquitous…
peterdiamandis.tumblr.com

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September 2020
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