Daily Post #19-20: Grit

Grit is something that piqued my interest after I watched Angela Duckworth’s talk in TED. So when her book popped up in front of my eyes while I was searching for an ebook to buy, I immediately bought it.

Have you ever wondered how the masters, paragons and experts differ from the average human beings? What sets them apart from the rest? Well, Angela has concluded that it is not talent that has the final say but grit, which is a combination of passion and perseverance. Talent is nothing without work. Gritty individuals are those who put in that extra push and effort to be better and, later on, the best in what they do. They are the ones who we still see working and putting extra hours a day to address their weaknesses while their counterparts had already retired to their beds and had already called it a night. In our world where working smart is now being more regarded upon than hard work, gritty people are the ones who not just work smart but also work hard.

Passion is interest that has deepened. Passion is not something that comes in a snap of a finger. Passion is something that grows overtime and is to be fostered. And sometimes passion develops during our early years. Just like the stories of these two lads in the book.

Will Shortz and Jeff Bezos share a common denominator. Both their mothers supported and nurtured their interests when they were younger.

Will Shortz is New York Times’ puzzle editor. His mother loves crossword puzzles and an innate lover of words. She was a writer. You might think that his being a puzzle editor has something to with his genetic makeup but it is far from just that. Not very long after he learned how to read and write, he came across a puzzle book. He was so entranced by it that his love for it expanded and grew to every kind of puzzles imaginable. Soon enough, Shortz had familiarized himself to all the major puzzle makers. He also acquired different puzzle books from these makers. And what was his mother’s role in all of these? She bought him the books. What more is that she also taught him how to make crossword puzzles. Being a writer who submitted articles for publication to magazines and newspapers, she was the one who encouraged Will to sell his puzzles once he started making them. When Shortz enrolled in university, it was his mother who found the individualized program that would let a student invent his own major. Up until now, Shortz remains the only in the world to hold a degree in the study of puzzles.

For Jeff Bezos, his mother not just acted as a supporter from the distance but she actually supported him hand-in-hand. One instance, when he was three, Jeff was already nagging his mother, Jackie that he should already sleep in a “big bed”. Jackie told him not yet but the time will come that he will. The next day she walked into his room and found him with a screwdriver in hand, disassembling his crib. Unlike other mothers, Jackie did not scold young Jeff but she sat with him, helped him disassemble his crib and assembled a makeshift “big bed” from it. During middle school, he got hooked with inventing that he and Jackie had made many trips to an electronics store. Once, they made 4 trips to the store in just one day because they needed another component for his invention. Jackie also remembered that when Jeff decided to build an infinity cube, she was sitting on the sidewalk with a friend. Jeff approached them telling them all the mechanics and science behind it. Jackie nodded and asked questions once in a while. After he walked away, Jackie’s friend asked her if she understood everything to which she replied,

It is not important that I understand everything. It’s important that I listen
— Jackie in "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance"

That stuck with me.

Jeff majored in computer science and electrical engineering and later on applied his programming skills to funds management. Years later, Jeff founded a mega internet-based bookstore which everybody now fondly know as Amazon.

How often do parents rain on their children’s parade, dismiss their children’s interests and impose on them what they like instead? This is typical especially in the Eastern culture. And as what Angela’s book says, this is often a recipe for disaster. Her advice to parents-to-be in regards to this: Before hard work comes play. And this is what children are supposed to be doing . Exploring and hopping from one interest to the next until they find what they really like to do. Novices should not be obsessed about getting better early in this stage. They should not be obsessed about finding that one interest as soon as possible. Let them wander and support them in their quest. At least, let them first have fun. And when that time comes when they have decided to stick to just one interest and develop this interest into a passion, you know then that the foundation is strong and unbreakable.

I hope I get to be that kind of mom to Bibibam and his future siblings.