I finished reading How Children Succeed by Paul Tough yesterday and I appreciate the thesis that it isn’t IQ or academic ability that leads to long-term success, but grit and character that makes the biggest difference in the lives of young people.
In truth, this is the case for all people and not just children.
Take writing for example. The most successful writers are not necessarily the most brilliant thinkers or the most eloquent linguists. In many cases, the writers who make a living from their work are simply the ones that work the hardest. While a successful author might make a living from writing and publishing six or twelve books in a year, a “gifted” writer might slave over perfecting a single work of writing that is published in obscurity.
Instead of innate ability or an impressive resume, the things that matter most according to Tough and Angela Duckworth, who he interviewed for the book are:
- Motivation – The desire to achieve a long-term goal.
- Volition – The willful desire to work hard, overcome obstacles, and display self-control.
Tough also relied on Gabriele Oettingen, who further defined three types of strategies when setting goals (with only one that actually works):
- Optimists visualize what it will feel like to succeed.
- Pessimists dwell on the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving their goals.
- Contrasting is concentrating on both the positive outcome and the obstacles in the way.
If you follow the third strategy, then you will be able to think strategically about how to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way between you and your goal.
You will be able to believe in your ability to succeed and continue trying until you do.
This goes for children in schools, but also for anyone who wants to find success in the world.