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Are You Going to Die on a Treadmill?

Are You Going to Die on a Treadmill?

September 25, 2016

“I am not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple.”

- Will Smith, Grammy award winning musician and Oscar nominated actor.

Smith says, “I never really viewed myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic”.

Where Will Smith excels is in Grit.

I recently read the book, “Grit”, by Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, and it’s was simply put: amazing.

Duckworth is a psychologist who’s trained in neuroscience. Through scientific research and anecdotal stories she shows us how grittier people lead more fulfilling lives: personally and professionally.

I want to share with you 4 phenomenal take-aways that I learned from this book.

They’ve been real game-changers for me and I’m confident that you’ll feel that same way.

Before we get started, let’s define “grit.” Duckworth explains it as, “our passion and perseverance for long term goals”.


Want to find out how gritty you are?

[Take your Grit Scale and receive a free review consulation with us.]


Take-away #1: It’s not about the talent.

We get sidetracked by talent. Explaining away someone’s greatness by saying that “He’s a natural” or “she’s just gifted” is a cop out. “Who can compete with God-given abilities?” we tell ourselves dismissively. “Why bother?”

God-given talent counts, for sure. But talent is only ¼ of the equation. The exact equation, Duckworth says, is this:

Talent x Effort = Skill -------------------------> Skill x Effort = Achievement

In any achievement, effort counts twice.

So let’s go back to that memorable quote by Will Smith. Will is truly talented, but what separated him from the other rappers on his hometown streets of West Philly was his  effort, which he parlayed into skill. And then ultimately into achievement.

“Ok - but what about American Idol?” you ask. “C’mon, we’ve all watched those talent shows and hooted at the folks who think they can sing.”

Yes, you’re right. No matter how much effort they put in, some well meaning friend  should have yanked half of the American Idolers out of line and given them a good  talking-to before auditioning.

Duckworth’s theory is that talent isn’t the main thing that will get you your Grammy. It’s  the truism of the old joke -  “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” asks a New York tourist.  “Practice, practice, practice.” responds the cabbie

Studies show that once a certain IQ has been reached, there is a negligible difference  between people who do amazing things with their lives and those who live at a level of mediocrity.

What matters is grit.

Take-away #2: Grit is cultivated, not inborn.

There are two ways to get grit, but both of them require work. We might envy those who  love what they do for a living. But, we shouldn’t assume that they started from a  different place than the rest of us. Chances are, they developed their grit.

You can get grit by:

  1. Developing it from within: cultivate interests, habitually challenge yourself
  2. towards a greater skill, find purpose beyond yourself in your goals, and learn
  3. hope when all seems lost.
  4. Grow your grit from the outside in. Parents, teachers, mentors, friends can
  5. encourage you beyond where you could have arrived by yourself.

It’s often a combination of the two.

Take-away #3: Gritty people love setbacks

“A righteous person falls seven times and rises.” - Jewish saying.

“Fall seven, rise eight.” Japanese saying.

Exceptionally creative people have nearly identical responses to setbacks: They say,  “Well, I don’t really think in terms of disappointment. I tend to think that  everything that happens is something I can learn from.’”

They frame failure differently than the rest of us. They talk to themselves in a language  of learned optimism. Positivity (and conversely failure) comes primarily from our interpretation rather than the objective event.

Take-away #4- How can your job be your calling?

Consider the parable of the bricklayers:

Three bricklayers are asked: “What are you doing?”

The first says, “I’m laying bricks.”

The second says, “I’m building a church.”

And the third says, “I’m building the house of God.”

The first bricklayer has a job, the second has a career, and the third has a calling.

Your job can be your calling, no matter what your job is.

Grittier people are dramatically more motivated than others to seek a meaningful, other-centered life.

In a survey of 982 zookeepers (who earn an average salary of $25,000 with a college degree), most identified their work as a calling, expressed a deep sense of purpose and were more willing to view their work as a moral duty (to the animals).

How you see your work is more important than your job title. A calling is not a fully formed thing, it’s dynamic. Whatever you do, ask yourself how it benefits other people?  How it can be an expression of your deepest values?

While working with hundreds of leaders, I’ve discovered that those with a higher purpose and calling are not only more personally satisfied with their job, but also more financially successful. That purpose infuses everything they do, so they do it better.

The same bricklayer who is laying bricks, can become the man who is building the house of God.

Want to find out how gritty you are?

[Take your Grit Scale and receive a free review consulation with us.]

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