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Angela Duckworth on grit, and the trouble with genius

Larry King NowSep 02 '16

Psychologist Angela Duckworth – who wrote ‘Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance’ – breaks down the elusive trait: why it’s crucial to success, whether men or women are gritter, and if the trait can be developed. Plus, the MacArthur Genius Grant recipient on why we’re looking at genius the wrong way.

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Psychologist Angela Duckworth – who wrote ‘Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance’ – breaks down the elusive trait: why it’s crucial to success, whether men or women are gritter, and if the trait can be developed. Plus, the MacArthur Genius Grant recipient on why we’re looking at genius the wrong way.

Angela Duckworth discusses her field of study, the trait of grit. The acclaimed author and psychologist reveals which four traits — interest, practice, purpose, and hope — are indicative of someone with grit and what those traits mean in terms of personal success. 

Angela Duckworth also explains that while her data doesn’t always indicate whether men or women are more likely to have grit, if she had to choose women would come out on top. Duckworth reveals what she thinks about the cultural “mythology of genius” and the way society expects it to present itself naturally, a unique perspective from the certified MacArthur Genius herself. Duckworth also reveals that like genius, she believes grit is a trait that has to be learned and practiced for one to succeed at any age. 

QUOTES FROM THIS 'LARRY KING NOW' INTERVIEW WITH ANGELA DUCKWORTH:

*Posted Online on Ora.TV on Sept 2nd 2016:

“Grit is a combination of passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals. It's the single characteristic that I found to be common to high achievers in every domain I've studied.” — Angela Duckworth on the trait of grit.

“I think you could be gritty and be evil. So it's not synonymous with character. It's a great question, but I do think it's a character strength. I mean the most important thing about character is that it's plural, it's not just being grittyor self-controlled, it's also being curious and grateful, kind, empathic, I think character is plural.” — Angela Duckworth on good character.

“When I first started teaching I thoughtit would be all about talent and intelligence, that the really bright kids would just take off and the kids who weren't as bright would fall behind. And you know, to some extent that was part of the story, but to a shocking degree just the quality and the quantity of their effort mattered so much and after just lecturing at kids, to little effect, you know exhorting them to work harder, to focus, I realized that I had to become a psychologist so I could understand when and why kids try hard and when and why they don't.”— Angela Duckworth on what drew her to the study of grit.

“I think that we have a kind of mythology of genius in our society and that kind of romantic version goes like this. There are some people who are born naturals, whenever we see true excellence we like to tell people that they're naturals and they can do something that we'll never ever ourselves be able to do and that kind of categorical distinction I think is actually not only not useful, I don't think it's actually true.” — Angela Duckworth on genius.

“I think that the best definition of genius is excellence and I would further say that typically that excellence is earned. You know, if somebody's really great at baseball or hosting a show or being a psychologist, it's not necessarily that they were born that way and in fact it's impossible that they were born that way, nobody is born knowing any complex human skill, they're all acquired. So genius can be defined as dazzling excellence, I don't have any problem with that, but why don't we say that genius is made not born.” —Angela Duckworth on genius.

“I'm Chinese, my parents emigrated from China to the Philadelphia area, they were not tiger parents, they did not make me practice piano, they did not make me get straight A's, but I will tell you this, whether it's because he's Chinese or not, I had a father who was singularly obsessed with achievement and I think that had an influence on me.” — Angela Duckworth on how her upbring influenced her success.

“I haven't studied a paragon of grit, an exemplar of passion and perseverance, who doesn't have someone like I have, you know an equivalent of my husband. Somebody who's, you know, tremendously loyal and supportive and I think there's such a thing as surrogate grit, somebody who can be gritty for you in moments when you don't have it yourself.” — Angela Duckworth on grit and relationships.

“ I think it's because they're young. I don't actually think it's becausethey grew up with Instagram and, you know, cat videos. I think that the idea that the Millennials are different from where we were when we were in our twenties and we didn't know what we wanted to do and we didn't know how to work hard and we didn't realize that good things take a long time and a lot of effort. I think that the majorproblem with Millennials is they haven't grown up yet.” — Angela Duckworth on the gritless reputation of Millennials.

“There's nothing moral about grit… I think that you can, you know, divorce grit from any kind of, you know, ethical virtue, it's not a sin to lack grit.” — Angela Duckworth on the morals of grit.

“Every time I go to a restaurant or I'm like waiting in line to buy something and I see excellence, and if you have your eyes open, it's not just at the Olympics every four years, or you know Nobel Prizes, I mean there's excellence everywhere. People who love what they do and they try to do it really well and have a bit of resilience, so you know they get over the bad, I mean that to me there's... I will never get bored of watching excellence.” — Angela Duckworth on her admiration of grit.

“There is so much that people could do. I know that's cliché, I don't know a non-cliché way to say it. I mean really, people often put limits on their selves… If you don't have the discipline to practice on weaknesses and get better, that doesn't mean that you couldn't learn it. I, I really think that almost anything could be learned and refined.” — Angela Duckworth on what her findings mean for the average person.