True Grit

As I travel around the country presenting information to JMOs considering a transition to Corporate America, I discuss and define the concept of being a development candidate.  This is not a term you can “google” or look up via the internet.  It is a term we created to best describe the type of JMO our client companies are interested in.  To be a developmental candidate requires both the ability and desire to be a top performer in business.  A couple of months ago, I watched a lecture on TED.com I thought really illustrated this idea of desire and what it takes to be successful, not only in business but in any pursuit really.

The lecture was from a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania about what the true recipe for achievement is.  Is it talent?  Is it luck?  Is it intellect?  As her presentation illustrates, the “special sauce” for making it to the top 10% is about perseverance,  tenacity, hard work, and determination, all executed over a long period of time (at least 10 years).  She summed all of this up into one word, grit.  And during that period of time, it requires that perserverance and grit to not just work hard but work hard in doing things outside of your comfort zone to improve and add to your skillsets.  My son loves sports and primarily basketball.  He spends a lot time in the driveway dribbling, shooting, etc.  He has grit but more often than not, he’s dribbling with his right hand only or shooting from the right side, both of which are strengths for him.  I’m always telling him to spend more of his time practicing those areas where he is not so comfortable – dribbling with his left hand, shooting from the left side of the court, etc.  Part of this idea of grit means you have to be tenacious but just as much in the areas where you may not be as comfortable to truly be successful.

We live in a society where it’s all about instant gratification but the reality is there are no true shortcuts to success.  That goes for your career, health and fitness or etc.  There are no magic pills to take where you will instantly lose 20 lbs and be in great shape.  When I was pursuing my MBA at Southern Methodist University, there were several of my classmates that really believed that getting their master’s degree was going to be “the ticket” to being a top performer with a company.  MBA programs even espouse their programs in this manner.  Don’t get me wrong; MBA programs are worthwhile and important but they are not a “shortcut” to get to the top of corporate leadership.  There are no quick fixes to top 10% success, whether it be in business or in any endeavor you choose to pursue.

If you are interested in watching the presentation, I’ve included it below:

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Rob Davis