The power of perseverance.
Achieving one’s business goals doesn’t necessarily require being the smartest person in the room, but it does require having the drive to constantly push to be the best at what you do and the willingness to put in the time to acquire requisite knowledge and skills, as well as provide service to customers. This is not to say that “any idiot can do it,” but research has shown that perseverance is a greater indicator of success than academic success, leadership potential or genetics.
Angela Duckworth, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, studied cadets in entering classes at the United States Military Academy at West Point. During their first summer on campus, cadets are required to complete a series of brutal tests. Duckworth studied achievement in this group and, more specifically, how mental toughness, perseverance, and passion impact a person’s ability to achieve goals. At West Point, she tracked a total of 2,441 cadets spread across two entering classes. She recorded their high school ranks, SAT scores, leadership potential scores (which reflect participation in extracurricular activities), physical aptitude exam scores (a standardized physical exercise evaluation), and Grit Scale (which measures perseverance and passion for long-term goals). What she found was astonishing.
Neither physical strength, intelligence nor leadership potential accurately predicted whether a cadet would successfully complete the tests. Instead, the cadets’ ability to finish was based entirely on grit – the tenacity and passion to achieve long-term goals. In fact, cadets who were only one standard deviation higher on the Grit Scale were 60% more likely to successfully complete the tests than their peers. It was mental toughness that predicted whether a cadet would be successful, not talent, intelligence or genetics. According to Duckworth, talent × effort = skill; skill × effort = achievement. In other words, “effort counts twice.”