The book I would encourage everyone to read is Grit by Angela Duckworth.
It’s clearly not a book explicitly written for any specific demographic but the information is conveys is in my mind the most valuable message anyone can ever realise about their own lives.
Life isn’t just about the talent we currently have.
In particular we must understand that what sd are now does not have to be what we are five years from now, or five months or even five minutes. If we focus on the things that really matter, if we find our passions and persevere, if we develop a grit and determination to relentlessly pursue the things that matter to us, we can achieve unprecedented success.
Success = Talent x Effort². Effort is twice important to success as talent; therefore, we will achieve the best results in the things we are most passionate about because we will never give up. Furthermore, if you are willing to expend the effort, if you can work harder that your contemporaries, even if they are better than you are now, you possess the capability to exceed their achievement and surpass them.
Understanding that how hard we try is twice as important as our innate skill is the thing which unshackled me from the perpetual dismissal and underestimation of my own potential.
In short, it was what contrarian truth that emancipated me by enabling me to dream and imagination. Our capabilities are whatever we imagine them to be. If we picture ourselves as brow-beaten then that is what we shall be, what the mind thinks we are is what we become.
Our potential is unlimited and can only be constrained by a lack of imagination.
Our limitations are merely imagined obstacles which stand in the way of the things we desire, and we can defeat them and move on. It’s not easy but cognition of that fact is the first stage of discovery.
And anecdotal stories of unlikely success inspire us. They are what make the impossible seem possible by making it relatable. Grit does that by breaking down the constituent elements of what it entails.
Everyone knows a prodigiously talented youth who failed to fulfil their promise, may it be a sportstar or an academic genius, who were eventually overtaken by their more determined peers. There are those who inherit innate talent and neglect the work necessary to improve further and there are those who see no limitation to the ceiling which they can reach. In such cases I’d back the latter no matter how much more talented the precocious genius is.
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
And it’s about more than working hard. Mindless pursuit of an undefined goal is akin to throwing darts in the dark. If you don’t know where you are aiming how do you know what you will hit? Sure eventually you might hit the target but there will be a tremendous amount of pain and wasted time prior to that.
Grit invokes a sense of wonder from outsiders. We see it in others and assume they possess some inhuman characteristic which enables them beyond our own capabilities. It’s simply false. Grit can be cultivated and fostered in anyone. If you are truly willing to commit yourself, follow a rigorous schedule and be open and transparent with yourself nothing can stand in your way.
But we are dishonest and lie, we mislead and distort the truth even to ourselves. We employ excuses and procrastinate instead of facing up to our own inadequacies and unmercifully challenging them. To achieve success we must first deconstruct our own performance. We must analyse what is working and what isn’t. That last part can’t be understated.
How many times have you had an exam where your study revolved around confirmation that you were good at a particular element. It is gratifying to succeed and deeply disappointing to fail. Failure is a necessary bedfellow with success. If you never permit yourself the opportunity to fail you will never be successful because you will never learn.
Our greatest successes lie on the cusp of our greatest failures. It is only when we are willing to risk it all and accept that failure is a possibility that we can experience the most personal growth.
And we must seek out the things that hold us back. That is why those with grit achieve what they do. They understand and accept the likelihood of failure.
But instead of allowing it demoralising our progress and paralysing us from action it encourages us to improve. It enlightens us to our failings and identifies a weakness that can be incrementally improved upon to enable our growth.
And that is what personal growth and pursuit of success is all about.