Intelligence? Talent? What Do You Need To Really Make It?

Mitch JoelPosted by

I don’t take bullying lightly. I was bullied in school. I’m sure many of us were. It sucks.

Still, there’s this famous comedic bit by Chris Rock where he says that we need bullies. If it weren’t for bullies we would never have people like Bill Gates. It’s a joke, of course. Bullying isn’t funny, of course. Without dissecting the comedic genius that is Chris Rock, his point is true. You can have the smartest and most talented people in the world, but if they’re not driven and if they don’t push past those who think that what they’re doing is dumb, then our world will see no innovation. Our world will end. Some of the best innovations have been created by those who were bullied, insulted and told that their ideas were worthless. Of course, we need bullying to end… Rock was taking it to the extreme to get a laugh. 

Why do some people succeed and many more fail?

Back in 2013, I saw a TED Talk by Angela Duckworth on the keys to success. She used a word. It struck me. It stuck with me. It’s something I’ve always felt I had, in certain aspects of my life, but could never define it down to one word. We know that talent doesn’t define success. We know many people who are super intelligent and have a load of talent, but can’t ever seem to catch a “lucky break.” Duckworth believes perseverance and passion matter as much (maybe even more) than talent and intelligence. After studying this area, she believes that “grit” is what counts. There’s the word: grit. You have to keep at it. It’s not just grit, but how grit coupled with talent and intelligence can really change and propel one’s life. That TED Talk has now been seen over eight million times. More recently, Duckworth published a book, Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance, to unpack this concept even more (it’s an entrancing read). 

Who is Angela Duckworth?

From her bio: “Angela Duckworth is a MacArthur Fellow and professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. An expert in non-I.Q. competencies, she has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs. Prior to her career in research, she taught children math and science, and was the co-founder of a summer school for low-income children that won the Better Government Award from the state of Massachusetts. She completed her BA in neurobiology at Harvard, her MSc in neuroscience at Oxford, and her PhD in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. More recently, she co-founded the Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development in children.” She has studied people – of all ages – and has seen those with grit push and push on through. Today, Google published her recent visit to their NYC office, where she discussed her book with Ben Fried, Google’s CIO.

Watch this: Talks At Google - Angela Duckworth: “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.”