The concept of grit has been made popular by psychologist Angela Duckworth, with her best-selling book by the same name. She reports on research showing that people who are more persistent, focused, and dedicated are more successful.
Is grit enough?
While I totally appreciate the importance of stick-to-it-iveness, something about Duckworth’s assertions didn’t sit right with me. This article by Daniel Goleman gave voice to my concern. Goleman’s commentary on grit has two basic points:
- Grit does indeed predict some types of success, if you define success as “getting ahead in the business world.” Promotions and top positions certainly favor the gritty.
- Gritty people tend to be fairly self-focused, hard to get along with, and so driven that they drive others away. They aren’t the most well-balanced team players and leaders. In fact, most employers look for other qualities besides grit when hiring.
Grit is important, and by no means the only predictor of success. Taken in isolation, grit may be a liability in today’s rapidly changing relationship economy.
Here is the scale Duckworth developed to measure grit. The questions focus exclusively on persistence. My interpretation of the research on resilience and success parallels Goleman’s; that grit is necessary, but not sufficient, for to achieve more rounded success in life.
The rest of the story
This is why we developed NEOS, a context-sensitive efficacy assessment that we use to measure outcomes associated with our leadership development programs. NEOS measures three areas of functioning, Openness (emphasized by Goleman and others as one of the most important), Resourcefulness, and Persistence (akin to grit). Openness measures a person’s ability to create safe, supportive, and transparent environments. Resourcefulness measures creative problem-solving, innovation, and learning from failure. Persistence measures grit.
NEOS is integral to all our work, and available for free to facilitators, practitioners, and providers in our network. For a small license fee, anyone can use NEOS with on-line, mobile access and outcomes data reporting. To learn more, give us a call.
If you are trying to predict success, or even more importantly, help build the foundation of success, focus on more than grit. Let your mantra be “O-R-P.”
Tips to build your O-R-P
Copyright 2016, Next Element Consulting, LLC
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