What it Takes to be Successful

In her famous TED Talk, Angela Lee Duckworth tackles a question our individualist culture continually strives answer: What does it take to be successful? In just six minutes, Duckworth explains through her experiences teaching math in New York City public schools and studying people from West Point to the National Spelling Bee that the most successful people embody one specific characteristic: grit. As she most eloquently says in her talk:

“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.”

She goes on to explain that we can encourage the development of grit by referring to Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck’s theory of a “growth mindset,” or the belief that one’s ability to learn is not pre-determined but can be changed with effort.

While not directly talking about sports, these theories are very much applicable to athletes. The athletes who are the most successful are the ones who show up first to practice and leave last. They are the ones who fuel their bodies with nutritious foods and get enough sleep so they can have the stamina to perform at optimum levels. They are the ones who don’t believe their skills are fixed because they have proven that wrong: they have seen their talents develop through hard work in and out of practice.

If you want to be successful, you need to put in the effort—“day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month…”

Click here to hear Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED Talk on grit.

Click here to hear Carol Dweck talk about the “growth mindset.”

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