Posts Tagged ‘commencement addresses’

The Power of Passion

July 8, 2016

(7th Post on GRIT)

In her book “GRIT:  The Power of Passion and Perseverance” Dr. Duckworth notes that “Follow Your Passion” is a common theme for commencements.  And throughout her book there are many examples of individuals who did follow their passion, persevered and were eminently successful.  She contrasts this with the usual advice given to students that they should look for a job with a good salary and prestige.  Should the two objectives come together such that an individual’s  passion was in an area offering both power and prestige, the problem is mitigated, but there still is the problem should the individual fail in the endeavor.  The argument can always be made that had the individual persevered longer, success would have been achieved.  Whether this is true remains unknown and can only be resolved by the death of the person.  Another post will be devoted to practical issues involved in following one’s passion.

Personally, HM has a problem with the term GRIT.  In Dr. Duckworth’s use of the term, passion provides the motivation to persevere.  My question is what what about tasks that require us to persevere, but for which we have no passion. Unfortunately, there are tasks we need to do that are unpleasant to do.  These are the tasks HM would say require grit.  Grit has connotations of grinding one’s teeth.   She has defined a useful psychological construct and named it Grit.  So Grit it is  and Grit it shall remain.  Still a term is required for which perseverance is needed, but which are annoying or painful to perform.

Dr. Duckworth does note that in a 2014 Gallup poll, more than two-thirds of adults said they were not engaged at work, a good portion of whom were “actively disengaged.”  In a survey of 141 nations, Gallup found that every country but Canada has even higher numbers of “not engaged” and “actively disengaged” workers than the United States.  Worldwide, only 13 % of adults call themselves “engaged.  I find these numbers difficult to reconcile with the percentile breakdown of Grit ratings provided by individuals.  Of course, it is possible, and let us hope it is likely, that many indulge their passions in their pastimes and hobbies.  But there will be another healthy memory blog post on an apparent paucity of passion.

Nevertheless, the Grit of which Dr. Duckworth writes so admiringly, and even more importantly, effectively pursued, is a goal that should be most beneficial to individual fulfillment and healthy memories.  There are issues with avenues for success, which result in productivity losses, which shall also be addressed in a subsequent post.

Nevertheless the many successful examples are both inspirational and informative, which certainly justifies reading the book.

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