As children, we are persuaded into believing that talent overrides hard work and determination. Our society has always recognized individuals that exceed standards, whether it be in sports, school or the workplace. It is those that are naturally gifted and or genetically apt that receive the most praise for their abilities and achievements. On the contrary, I believe that with ambition and self-sufficiency, all people are capable of exceeding standards.
In a 2013 TED talk entitled ‘Grit: The power of passion and perseverance,’ psychologist and researcher Angela Lee Duckworth discloses concepts such as grit and self-perseverance that are used to predict academic and or professional success. Duckworth defines grit as “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.”
As part of Duckworth’s research, she set forth on a journey to examine humans of differing ages and occupations in various settings, such as West Point Military Academy, the National Spelling Bee, school districts in struggling neighborhoods and private sales companies. Duckworth questioned who would succeed in their work environments and why. Despite contrasting circumstances, she determined that one thing remained the same in all environments; it was not the intelligence or physical appearance of her subjects that determined success, but instead, it was grit.
One common misconception in education today is that talent often beats effort in the classroom. However, just because someone has a better grade in a class or receives a higher score on a test, does not mean that they are necessarily smarter than anyone else. Although an Intelligent Quotient (IQ) test measures analytical abilities, it does not measure practical intelligence, interest in a subject, or self-determination.
Once said by Thomas Jefferson, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude”. Those that are self-determined and ambitious recognize that it takes persistence to achieve their goals. Although a subject might come easier to one based on preordained skill, with the right mindset, others that might be considered less capable of such tasks are just as qualified to complete one in an identical and or similar context.
Teachers, coaches and parents should encourage those that may lack natural ability in order to stimulate their own desire and to preserve regardless of the circumstances. When in the classroom or on the field/court, teachers and coaches need to view students/players as equals. Without the motivation for one to succeed, students will lose the determination that is necessary to achieve their goals.