In this book, the author argues that grit is as important as talent and every other factor (like luck) when it comes to achieving goals. It’s not an “exciting” idea because we all want to see magic and glamour, not the effort that goes behind them. Angela says that we are prejudiced when it comes to “natural” talent. Outwardly, we say that we value those who have worked hard but deep down, we are awe-struck by those who have inborn talent. She advocates a culture which appreciates perseverance and passion. In her research, Angela found that gritty people are generally more satisfied and happy. Here focus in this book is on the importance of grit in one’s career. She has interviewed people from various professions and also interviewed people who interview people from various professions and found that gritty people are the ones who manage to achieve their goals successfully.
If you don’t read the whole book (and just read this post, for example), you will get a feeling that Angela is only talking about a particular type of success, but after finishing it, she comes across as a wise person who is not talking about ‘competing’ with others. She truly believes (and provides adequate research) that honing a skill and becoming good at it makes you a happier person. She makes you fall in love with self-improvement and excellence. However, I somehow feel that this book can be only enjoyed by those who want to improve but are kind of lost. Those who don’t really care about self-improvement might not be able to get through it.
Angela has a very practical view of “following your dreams” and “pursuing your passion” and it’s very refreshing to see a psychologist’s view about hope and self-belief. She says that passion, like all things in life, has to be built, brick by brick. She compares it with our idea of a “soulmate”..we are conditioned to believe that a soulmate is “perfect” in every way. Unfortunately, such a person doesn’t exist.Similarly, there is no perfect job! Passion won’t suddenly come to you to “sweep you off your feet”. Angela encourages people to experiment to understand themselves and their interests. If there is something that you are curious about, explore it. But don’t expect a magical interest to randomly enter your life. Unfortunately, this path is tough. And that’s why we are quick to judge every successful person as ‘talented’. If someone is a genius or god-gifted, he/she is special and extraordinary, you cannot be like him/her and you don’t even have to try. What’s tough is to acknowledge is that every ‘talented’ person puts in hours and hours of blood, sweat and tears.
There is also an important point about ‘hard work’, though. Angela says that just “working hard” means nothing. She talks about the concept of “deliberate practice” where you work hard, but combine it with awareness, purpose and a desire to improve.
This book is quite similar to Carol Dweck’s Mindset (click). But unlike Carol, Angela is bit more open. She shares a lot of things from her life and gives the book a personal touch. If you are looking for a way to become Mozart, then this book might disappoint you. But if you want to get better at something and experience the joy of improving, then this might be the perfect book for you.