From an episode of podcast “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know”, I learned about Professor Angela Duckworth at Penn and her research on the topic of grit. I rushed to get a hold of her new book, and it turned out to be a wonderful read.
Grit, defined by Angela, is a combination of passion and perseverance. Passion is important because you need to love what you do, wake up everyday and excited to go to work. And perseverance is that you can keep up your passion for work for a long time. Some of the successful people that Angela interviewed and analyzed confessed that sometimes the training towards success can be extremely difficult and boring, but they were able to convince themselves that the hard work is worth it, and eventually all the pain and tears paid off.
This reminds me of the time when I first came to America and enrolled in an American high school, I could barely speak complete sentences in English and can hardly understand other people. I requested that I was to be put into the hardest classes they offer at the school, all IB and AP courses. Some teachers were against it, some aspects of my English skills was probably comparable to elementary school students, how was I going to succeed in IB English, where most American students have a hard time passing? How can I at the same time start picking up Spanish from scratch, and compete in a class where most students in the class were Mexicans and have taken Spanish classes before? Oh top of that the other humanities classes require much reading, and the sciences classes uses technical vocabularies that I was not at all familiar with. I knew at the time that I shall not given in to pressure, and that anytime could be achieved with hard work. By the time I graduated, the two courses that they school personnel were most worried about, my English and Spanish grades were among the highest of the graduating class, and I passed all my IB and AP exams.
Another point that Angela made in the book that I strongly agree with is that for one to be successful, he or she needs to not only love doing the job, they also need to feel that what they do contributes to the betterment of the society. The latter condition sometimes can be very motivational for many people, and I find it resonates with me as well. Although I love doing scientific research and learning knowledge, I also find it rewarding to know that someday my research could create a better environment for other people. The combination of those two rationales is what pushes me forward in my career.
I highly recommend “Grit” to anyone, especially those who are in need of motivation or in search for a life purpose.