I recently finished reading Grit by Angela Duckworth, and it is easily one of the best books I’ve read recently.

The biggest takeaway for me was that it is this thing called grit, and not talent that determines our success in life, and I loved this equation from the book that explains what this is all about:

Chess analogies come easy to me so I’ll take one to explain the equation. About an year or so ago I saw this video embedded below where Danny Rensch puts a blindfold on and tells you what color a square on the board is, and moves the knight from one square to another in his head. Here’s the video below for all of you to understand what I’m talking about. Just watch it for a minute or so even if you are not into Chess to get a sense of what I’m talking about.

When I first saw this I thought well this is impossible for most people. That’s what I really thought – it seemed like some sort of a magic trick.

But then I thought I can at least memorize the co-ordinates and colors because that seems a little more doable, and I’ve in fact blogged about my CAGE even is white method that I came up with to do this and I found that not only was it doable it wasn’t as hard as I’d expected it to be.

So, if you think back to the first part of the equation there’s certain innate talent that you have for anything which was vizualization in this case, and you take that talent and multiply it with effort, and build a skill. Now in tournaments I see many 10 year olds who probably took a tenth of the time I took to learn the color of every square, but it doesn’t matter because you put more effort into it, and achieve the same skill level.

So, that’s the first part of the equation and my analogy. The second part is that the skill is a means to an end, so in my case I wanted to improve this visualization skill to improve my chess results. So, now you have this skill and you further multiply it with effort which is playing tournament games and applying this skill to get to achievement.

When I look at it this way – the equation makes total sense to me!

To take a business analogy – I am sure a lot of you have heard about the feedback sandwich where you provide feedback in the following manner:

- Positive
- Constructive
- Positive

Now I’ve known this method for more than 15 years but knowing is not doing, so in a way it takes very little talent to understand this skill, but it takes effort to practice and internalize it, and then when you use it over and over again it becomes second nature, and your achievement would be to become someone who’s good to providing constructive feedback to their colleagues.

So, while reading this book I made a note that I’ll be deliberate about providing feedback in this manner, and I’ve found that it has greatly helped internalize it because I looked at it in the form of this equation.

The idea above was the one that most resonated with me from this book, but there were several other things that I came across that I had read before that helped form a more integrated view of them in my mind. For example – Angela Duckworth mentions Martin Seligman early on in the book, and I do highly recommend Learned Optimism to anyone interested in positive psychology, and Tal Ben Shahar’s book (my review here) and lectures are a further resource on this as well.

Another interesting idea she mentions is Amy W’s job crafting which I came across earlier this year while reading either Prof. Ben Shahar or Shawn Achor and here’s a very nice video where she explains her idea.

All in all I really loved this book not only for its own idea but also for how it weaves together other ideas in the area of positive psychology and paints a comprehensive picture for you.