Why Grit Is More Important Than IQ When You're Trying To Become Successful

It turns out that intelligence might not be the best indicator of future success. According to psychologist Angela Duckworth, the secret to outstanding achievement isn’t talent. Instead, it’s a special blend of persistence and passion that she calls “grit.”

Duckworth has spent years studying people, trying to understand what it is that makes high achievers so successful. And what she found surprised even her. It wasn’t SAT scores. It wasn’t IQ scores. It wasn’t even a degree from a top-ranking business school that turned out to be the best predictor of success. “It was this combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special,” Duckworth said. “In a word, they had grit.”

What her research demonstrated is that it wasn’t natural talent that made the biggest difference in who was highly successful and who wasn’t – it was more about effort than IQ. Duckworth even came up with two equations she uses to explain this concept:

Talent x effort = skill

Skill x effort = achievement

“Talent is how quickly your skills improve when you invest effort. Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and use them,” Duckworth explained.

As you can see from the equations, effort counts twice. That’s why IQ and SAT scores aren’t a good indicator of someone’s future success. It’s because those scores are missing the most important part of the equation – the person’s effort level…

Soft Skills Every Developer Should Have

A few weeks ago, I interviewed someone who wants to become a developer. He was concerned about the fact that he wasn't good enough technically and that he will never be. "What makes a great developer in your opinion?" he asked me. I answered briefly: "A great developer must have technical skills, it's undeniable. But what really makes you great are your soft skills".

This answer surprised him. And it may surprise some of you. But I insist: soft skills are important, more important than technical skills. Because once you get the right soft skills, technical skills come naturally. Let's see which skills and why…

We Tell Our Kids That Hard Work Always Pays Off. What Happens When They Fail Anyway?

A star athlete at the college where I work recently stopped by my office. After committing a few unforced errors during a weekend match, she was — several days later — riven by self-criticism and distracted on the field.

“I can’t stop beating myself up,” she told me. “I’m at peak fitness, and I practice hard. How is this happening?”

This student, like many I teach, believes she should be able to control the outcomes of her life by virtue of her hard work. It’s a mentality verging on invincibility: a sense that all-nighters in the library, a jam-packed calendar and hours on the field should get her exactly where she needs to go in life. Nothing can stop me but myself.

I study and write about resilience in young adults, and I’m noticing a troubling spike in students like this athlete. Their faith in their own sweat equity confers a kind of contingent confidence: when they win, they feel powerful and smart. Success confirms their mindset.

The problem comes when these students fail. When they fall short of what they imagine they should accomplish, they are crushed by self-blame. If my accomplishments are mine to control, they reason, my failures must be entirely my fault, too. Failing must mean I am incapable, and maybe will be forever. This makes it incredibly difficult for students to move on.

We talk often about young adults struggling with failure because their parents have protected them from discomfort. But there is something else at play here among the most privileged kids in particular: a message transmitted to them by doting parents who have falsely promised them that they can achieve anything if they are willing to work for it.

Instead of allowing our kids to beat themselves up when things don’t go their way, we might all pause to question a culture that has taught them that being anything less than overwhelmed is lazy, that how they perform for others is more important than what actually inspires them and that where they go to college matters more than the kind of person they are.

The point is not to give our kids a pass on working hard and doing their best. But fantasizing that they can control everything is not really resilience. We are harming our children by implying that they can bend life to their will, and as students walk across commencement stages this year, we would be wise to remind them that life has a way of sucker-punching us when we least expect it. It’s often the people who learn to say “stuff happens” who get up the fastest.

What Kids Need to Learn to Succeed in 2050: The art of reinvention will be the most critical skill of this century

So, what should we be teaching? Many pedagogical experts argue that schools should switch to teaching “the four Cs” — critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. More broadly, they believe, schools should downplay technical skills and emphasize general-purpose life skills. Most important of all will be the ability to deal with change, learn new things, and preserve your mental balance in unfamiliar situations. To keep up with the world of 2050, you will need to do more than merely invent new ideas and products, but above all, reinvent yourself again and again.

Reimagining Education Together

A survey run for Big Change has shown why the education system must change with a staggering seven in 10 teachers saying schools must prepare students for more than just exams. This is echoed by parents, with half saying they want schools to focus on more than passing tests.  

The survey overwhelmingly shows that there is a huge appetite for change and the report shows examples of how we can do it. It is full of examples of trail blazers from around the world who have dared to ‘be the change’ in education, who look at the whole child rather than list of grades. 

At Big Change we believe this can’t be achieved in an education system so fixated on standardised testing, grade-point-average, prescriptive lesson plans, copy-and-paste criteria sheets and statistics.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost sight of the human touch when it comes to educating our young people. We need to nurture students, embrace their natural curiosity and recognise their individuality. We need a seismic shift throughout the entire learning ecosystem….

How Coca-Cola, Netflix, and Amazon Learn from Failure

Why, all of a sudden, are so many successful business leaders urging their companies and colleagues to make more mistakes and embrace more failures?

In May, right after he became CEO of Coca-Cola Co., James Quincey called upon rank-and-file managers to get beyond the fear of failure that had dogged the company since the “New Coke” fiasco of so many years ago. “If we’re not making mistakes,” he insisted, “we’re not trying hard enough.”

In June, even as his company was enjoying unparalleled success with its subscribers, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings worried that his fabulously valuable streaming service had too many hit shows and was canceling too few new shows. “Our hit ratio is too high right now,” he told a technology conference. “We have to take more risk…to try more crazy things…we should have a higher cancel rate overall…”

These 4 trends are shaping the future of your job

The hard reality of soft skills

The term “soft skills” hardly does justice to the complex combination of capabilities it describes: empathy, emotional intelligence, creativity, being able to collaborate and communicate, to name but a few.

While they’ve never been the stuff of MBAs and PhDs, soft skills are now more important than ever. So much so that 80% of those surveyed by LinkedIn say they are growing in importance to business success, while 89% highlighted a lack of soft skills among bad hires at their organisation…

Sir Richard Branson: Want to be an entrepreneur? Start at primary school

What does it feel like to own a business? Have they all been a success? What does it feel like to own an island? 

There are, I imagine, few people who could take on the latter question with any degree of knowledge; yet, sitting in front of a room full of primary school entrepreneurs, Sir Richard Branson seemed happy to take on the challenge. 

It's great, he said, adding: "a business is simply coming up with an idea to improve other people’s lives and, hopefully, when you have done that, more money will come in than goes out.”

Michael Mercieca, CEO of Young Enterprise, also highlighted the importance of introducing enterprise skills to pupils: "Research shows that if you are trying to instill in pupils certain behaviours or attitudes, the earlier you start the better. The employment and life skills developed through an enterprise education are really important and beneficial to all pupils. 

"Young Enterprise research suggests that over 70 per cent of employers say that entry level applicants do not have the necessary employment skills," he continued. "These are the skills that pupils should be developing throughout their education career."

Forget coding, we need to teach our kids how to dream

Life is becoming increasingly less predictable. From the political volatility to the vast societal changes of globalisation, drastic, seismic change is in the air.

While unpredictability is already problematic for many, for future generations there are no signs of things calming. If we accept that the role of education is to furnish our children with the best understanding, skills and values for a prosperous and happy life, then how do we arm them for a future that we can’t imagine? Do we even need knowledge in a world of Alexa and Siri? Is the skill of agility now more valuable than the gaining of knowledge?

Hiring: Grades matter but other factors vital

Companies are still drawn to good grades as these are a strong sign of a prospective employee's capability, leading employers told students..But other factors, such as how candidates work under pressure, are increasingly being considered in the hiring process.

In a five-minute speech on the same topic, Singapore Management University undergraduate Tan Xin Hao said: "Titles come and go, but there's no substitute for values... which cannot be picked up within the four walls of a classroom.

"Would you prefer a second-class honours graduate with stellar leadership experience, or a first-class who has no heart to groom the next generation?"

NUS to take in more poly grads with entrepreneurial abilities

NUS, which runs a programme to nurture entrepreneurs in different business nodes of the world, has asked the five polytechnics to each nominate up to 40 students. These include those who have displayed a strong entrepreneurial inclination during their diploma studies as well as students who have participated in programmes that are related to entrepreneurship…students who enjoy what they are learning tend to be more motivated and are more likely to do well and, at NUS, the faculty constantly looks at ways to encourage students to embrace lifelong learning and pursue their passions.

We have to hire on attitude

“Technology changes so fast that we really have to change the paradigm of how we hire,” she says. “We have to hire attitude, and … keep them trained and not expect them to come with these skill sets that are outdated by the time they walk through the door.”

Running technology for a government agency is less about technology and more about ideas – so hiring diverse people is key. “I try to surround myself with people who don’t think like I do,” she says. “We’ve had three years of complete transformation; we wouldn’t have been able to do that if everyone thought the same.”

Asked to identify a favourite quote to inspire the next generation of IT leaders, Jewell selects a Steve Jobs line: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

Freakonomics Radio presents their 'How To Be Creative" series

Freakonomics Radio presents a special series, “How to Be Creative.” Over the course of the series, you’ll hear from some of the world’s most accomplished creatives: contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, inventor James Dyson, musician Elvis Costello, author Jennifer Egan, singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, illustrator Maira Kalman, filmmaker Seth Gordon, graphic designer Michael Bierut, and many more. You’ll also hear from economists and psychologists who study creativity…

Building a tech-enabled ecosystem: A culture of innovation

A culture of innovation and failing fast drives the Chinese financial conglomerate’s expansion beyond traditional sector boundaries and its early adoption of emerging technologies…”We have a clear vision and set very aggressive targets. No matter your background or position, at the end of the year, the only thing that matters is whether you’ve delivered your results or not. That helps to galvanize people to work together because if they don’t, they won’t meet their targets.…In this culture, everyone is able to speak up with new ideas or objections. There’s no sacred ground that you can’t touch, and that’s a philosophy that has really helped us over the years. Risk taking is strongly encouraged, and failure isn’t stigmatized. When I first came to Ping An, I remember Peter Ma, our founder and CEO, telling me, “You don’t have to worry about failing at all. We just need you to try really hard to find a way to make it work. As long as one of these ideas eventually works, we’ll be successful…”

Great Leadership Starts With Self-Awareness

Self-awareness has been cited as the most important capability for leaders to develop, according to the authors of “How To Become a Better Leader,”which was published in the MIT Sloan Management Review. Successful leaders know where their natural inclinations lie and use this knowledge to boost those inclinations or compensate for them.

A study also found that self-awareness impacts companies’ bottom line. In a study of the stock performance of 486 publicly traded companies, Korn/Ferry International found that companies with strong financial performance tend to have employees with higher levels of self-awareness than poorly performing companies. 

Yet self-awareness seems to be in short supply among leaders. While women in executive-level management positions tend to exhibit more self-awareness than men in the same positions, the overall percentages suggest there is much opportunity for growth in this area. In a study of 17,000 individuals worldwide, the Hay Group Research found that 19 percent of women executives interviewed exhibited self-awareness as compared to 4 percent of their male counterparts…

Why Schools Should Teach Entrepreneurship

Tina Seelig is a professor of the Practice in Stanford University’s Department of Management Science and Engineering and a faculty director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. She will speak at the Inside Creativity track at the Aspen Ideas Festival. 

Our education system is responsible for preparing young people to build successful lives. They should be ready for the wide range of possibilities ahead of them, including working for others, starting their own ventures, and contributing to their communities. All of these options require a depth of knowledge in their chosen discipline, as well as creative problem solving skills, leadership abilities, experience working on effective teams, and adaptability in an ever-changing environment. It’s no coincidence that these are the same capabilities that employers say they want in college graduates. According to research conducted by National Association of Colleges and Employers, they are also the deciding factors when employers compare candidates with equivalent backgrounds…

The Future of Jobs Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Disruptive changes to business models will have a profound impact on the employment landscape over the coming years. Many of the major drivers of transformation currently affecting global industries are expected to have a significant impact on jobs, ranging from significant job creation to job displacement, and from heightened labour productivity to widening skills gaps. In many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even five years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate. By one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist. In such a rapidly evolving employment landscape, the ability to anticipate and prepare for future skills requirements, job content and the aggregate effect on employment is increasingly critical for businesses, governments and individuals in order to fully seize the opportunities presented by these trends—and to mitigate undesirable outcomes.

The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Five years from now, over one-third of skills (35%) that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed. 

By 2020, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have brought us advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence and machine learning, advanced materials, biotechnology and genomics. 

These developments will transform the way we live, and the way we work. Some jobs will disappear, others will grow and jobs that don’t even exist today will become commonplace. What is certain is that the future workforce will need to align its skillset to keep pace.

The secrets of the high potential personality

Are there six traits that could really mark out your potential to achieve?

Are you curious, conscientious and competitive? Do you also have the more mysterious qualities of “high adjustment”, “ambiguity acceptance” and “risk approach”? If so, congratulations! According to new psychological research, these six traits constitute a “high potential” personality that will take you far in lifeThe truth, of course, is a little more nuanced. It turns out the same traits, in excess, may also impede your performance, and the real secret to success may be to know exactly where you fall on each spectrum, and how to make the most of your strengths and account for your weaknesses. But this new approach promises to be an important step forward in our bid to understand the complex ways our personality affects our working life…