Grit: Key Ingredient Of Success

What is your passion? Everyone has them, but the important question to answer is yours. What is your passion and how can you succeed in it?

Angela Lee Duckworth, a prominent professor at the University of Pennsylvania, made an interesting discovery when studying measures of future success. She found a person’s “grit” is far more superior in determining future success than the other conventional measures of intelligence or socioeconomic status. If that is true, then what is grit?

I believe the story of Edwin C. Barnes sheds some light on grit. From Napoleon Hills ‘Think and Grow Rich’, we read:

“When Edwin C. Barnes climbed down from the freight train in Orange, N.J., more than thirty years ago, he may have resembled a tramp, but his thoughts were those of a king!

As he made his way from the railroad tracks to Thomas A. Edison’s office, his mind was at work. He saw himself standing in Edison’s presence. He heard himself asking Mr. Edison for an opportunity to carry out the one CONSUMING OBSESSION OF HIS LIFE, a BURNING DESIRE to become the business associate of the great inventor.

Barnes’ desire was not a hope! It was not a wish! It was a keen, pulsating DESIRE, which transcended everything else. It was DEFINITE.”

Barnes wanted nothing else then to become the business partner of Thomas Edison. You might say his desire was like that of the rock in the picture on the right. Everything in his life flowed around it. The rock is not moved by the strong current or forces of the river; rather, the current and forces must move around the rock to continue their path downstream.

The desire is NOT a fleeting desire, something thrust into the heart for the moment and fizzles out as quickly as it had come. The desire is NOT wishful, constantly waiting for the opportune moment to become that which is wanted. Instead, it IS a consuming obsession, a burning desire whose flame cannot be extinguished.

This does NOT mean that every burning passion will be fulfilled. Many of them will not. I, personally, spent my early adult years chasing several burning passions only to find what I can and cannot do. Although talent is not the most important predictor of success, it does play a part. There are certain things that no matter how hard you work for, a lack of talent cannot be overcome to obtain the desired objective. At those junctions of life, you will need to learn how to walk away from that passion in pursuit of another.

Other times, your burning passion may be denied by the trivial reasonings of man. In those moments, no amount of talent, intelligence, or desire may garner you the opportunity to engage in that passion.

Those passions for which you can develop talent and are afforded opportunities, however, you can be gritty about and obtain. That is the lesson learned from Barnes experience:

“The desire was not new when he approached Edison. It had been Barnes’ dominating desire for a long time. In the beginning, when the desire first appeared in his mind, it may have been, probably was, only a wish, but it was no mere wish when he appeared before Edison with it.

A few years later, Edwin C. Barnes again stood before Edison, in the same office where he first met the inventor. This time his DESIRE had been translated into reality. He was in business with Edison. The dominating DREAM OF HIS LIFE had become a reality. Today, people who know Barnes envy him, because of the ‘break’ life yielded him. They see him in the days of his triumph, without taking the trouble to investigate the cause of his success.

Barnes succeeded because he chose a definite goal, place all his energy, all his will power, all his effort, everything back of that goal. He did not become the partner of Edison the day he arrived. He was content to start in the most menial work, as long as it provided an opportunity to take even one step toward his cherished goal.

Five years passed before the chance he had been seeking made its appearance.”

Barnes’ passion was not fleeting. He held it for “a long time”.

Barnes’ did not wait for a moment to meet Thomas Edison. He boarded a train to Orange N.J. and went directly to his office to put Edison on notice that Barnes is going into business with him.

Barnes’ did not turn away when all he could get, at first, was “the most menial work”. He, instead, recognized it as a step toward his goal.

Barnes’ worked tenaciously for years to obtain his goal. He did not up and quit the first moment things became difficult.

Barnes’ developed talent as a salesman, being able to sale anything Edison asked of him. He did not languish in mediocrity over all those years.

Barnes’ knew what he wanted, believed he could develop the talent to obtain it, and went for it ignoring the opposing forces the same way a rock ignores the forces of the river. “He may have resembled a tramp, but his thoughts were those of a king!”

The point is, everyone has their burning passion. Everyone has their Edison. The question is what is your burning passion? What is your Edison?

Once you know your burning passion, can you develop the necessary talent to succeed in it? NOT do you have the necessary talent, but CAN you develop it? Our natural talents will always be outweighed by our developed talents.

With those two questions answered, what are you going to do to fulfill it? What ACTION will you take to begin fulfilling your burning passion THIS VERY MOMENT? When you take action, you will FEEL what it means to live.

All preliminary questions answered, here comes the big one; the one that will determine whether you will succeed. Do you have the GRIT to see it through?


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