Cultivate Your Mental Toughness (Why Authentic Grit Matters More Than Talent)
Thomas Oppong
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Hi Thomas,

Let me begin by saying I haven’t read Grit myself. I did, however, engage in an in-depth conversation over Duckworth’s work with my significant other who has read it. I may have seen some of the scales and such in the book. My guy is an MIT MBA and has a senior-level position in a global corporation, so he initially bought the grit thing because it likely got him where he is.

I don’t know if you’ve seen the many critiques of “grit” that have come out of the woodwork recently, but I have my own, and I wonder about your thoughts on this one.

I will not disregard the place of passion/desire, perseverance, and discipline in achieving outcomes. These are necessary, and all of the traditional “success” literature incorporates these in their own ways. Desire is THE seed of creation in anything we do. These principles allowed me to excel in graduate school at Harvard and Boston University; in work at the United Nations; plenty of other outlets where I am striving to be the high-achiever (even in dance or music) that I am in whatever I do.

Now I’m in the entrepreneurial world because I realized that while those many “achievements” were worthwhile and great, I never truly went for my biggest dreams until now because I didn’t even know they existed. Perhaps the contrast of those experiences led me to where I am now, as life does for all of us.

My concern with Grit is that those of us high-achievers will push and persist at anything you put in front of us because it’s our very nature. Or, better yet, has become an engrained way of being. Yet, if we are not careful in choosing the desire and passion that is true to who we are, regardless of societal expectations, we could end up “gritting” ourselves through a life of misaligned choices. We all seek happiness and fulfillment. A feeling state. Our goals are the means to the end: happiness.

The greatest visionaries (thinkers, entrepreneurs, inventors, leaders, artists, etc.) on the planet were ahead of their time, disregarding the conditions of their present environment in order to birth something that did not yet exist. And I’m sure they used grit to birth their extraordinary creations into the world.

My concerns may be a whole different conversation, or we may be talking apples and oranges. Before we use the masculine, outward, linear-oriented energy of grit to achieve an outcome, how can we be sure that we began with a feminine, receptive, creative vision that is true to who we are? I am interested in leading-edge thinking, with upscale solutions where we quantum leap our lives and impact to truly push humanity forward.

Thanks for your post! Would love to hear your thoughts.

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