Determination ( Grit) is better than smarts..

3 Dec

Ranj se khun gar hua insan to mit jata hai runj
Mushkilen mujgpar padi itni ki aasan ho gayi
Pain ceases to be pain when it fills a man
Problems so many befell me that they became easy

Mirza Ghalib ( Unravelling Ghalib :

Thus spake one of the great Urdu poets Mirza Ghalib.  “I had so many difficulties, things got easier for me..” I often reflected on  Ghalib’s line. I came to a conclusion it is both a  defination of ” Grit” and “learnability”. A certain elasticity develops that makes us surmount problems . In a way its like a clinical drug trial, If the sample size is big ( like a public hospital in India) you are bound to get better and efficacious results. So would be the diagnostic abilities of physicians. They would get better. That’s why experienced doctors are so good.

I think medical studies is also a good example of determination. Students have to study big fat books and have examination in every few semesters. I had too many doctor friends early so am aware of this. Also me spent  time in hospitals with my father and brother. I would see interns with their big books. I realised it’s a course of endurance and grit. So medical science is a testimony to student’s grit and determination. Iam not discounting smarts, of course they are, otherwise we would all be dead, but determination supercedes smartness. This is my contention.

” When they lose they blame their luck, but I’ve put more hours than they have, that’s why I win. That’s my trick 😉 ”

― Rafael Nadal ( Twitter/ Rafael Nadal status for a poker win, thus so with tennis also 🙂 )

Rafa is my favorite modern sports person. If you see the amount of injuries endured and yet come out stronger there is no greater testimony to human will and grit. It is superhuman. ( Please see an earlier post :

Angela Lee Duckworth , American psychologist in a remarkable study on grit says:

” Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We need to take our best ideas, our strongest intuitions, and we need to test them. We need to measure whether we’ve been successful, and we have to be willing to fail, to be wrong, to start over again with lessons learned.In other words, we need to be gritty about getting our kids grittier.”

― Angela Lee Duckworth (  TED Talk : The key to Success ? Grit)

Please see my observations in a earlier post.

I agree not only children need to be made loved but also need to be taught to get grittier. How do we do that?

In a fast company article ” Why determination matters more than smarts in getting aheadVivian Giang writes ” If you are constantly told you’re a genius, how would it affect your work ethic? Would it make you work harder because you know your ability, or make you lazier because you know you’re already ahead?

Carol S. Dweck ,a leading expert in motivation and professor at Stanford University , studies the effects that praise has over mindset. What she’s found is simple alterations in wording greatly shape attitude toward work, and whether one will strive hard enough to reach their full potential.”

More ” In a series of studies, Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she and her team experimented on 400 fifth graders from different parts of the United States. The children were from varied ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

First, participants were given a series of puzzles to test their IQ. After they finished their test, they were told their score and praised in different ways. One group was praised for their intelligence and was told: “You got x number correct. That’s a really good score. You must be very smart at this.” Another group was praised for their effort and was told: “You must have worked really hard.”

The students were then given a choice as to what kind of test they would take next. They could either take one that’s harder than the first, or one that’s just as easy. A majority of the children who were praised for their intelligence chose to take the easier test, whereas 90% of those praised for their effort chose to tackle the harder puzzles. ”

Please do read this nice article  :

Thus ” Dweck’s research teaches us an important lesson about success: Smarts can only take you so far. The rest of the way is paved by grit and determination.” I concur with this research wholeheartedly.

I met a class mate from junior college on a jogging track few years ago. I always liked him and life had taken a different course for us. He  had then told me he is into Research with AstraZeneca. My class mate Ramesh is a trained medical doctor. He is a doctor of Medicine. More importantly he also managed a football club. He is a silent hero for me. I wondered how he pulled it of, medical studies, then he went to US , then managing football. Smartness is a given. It must be grit, determination and perseverance.

I read in todays Times of India, India’s badminton coach , Pullela Gopichand  saying ” When I Started coaching, the day began at 8am, then it was 7 and now it is 4 am. I like to push myself. And we have achieved great results this year in team and individual events. To repeat these we have to work harder next year.” The country is witnessing a Renaissance in badminton under him with a string of top performers. So its truly hardwork, grit and learnability.

An incident from my life, in a by far best assignment so far, faced lot of initial rejections, one Indian origin lady told me ” We work with IIT’s only and it is beyond you. ”  I had replied to her ” I wish to meet your director to explain my credentials.”  IIT being a premier technology institution in India. Much heralded one. So full of smarts. I came from the other spectrum of ” learnability” and ” grit.” Ofcourse my boss chided me ” If some one is not intelligent according to you, you don’t have to react like this..”  Ofcourse the principals from America gave me a fair oppurtunity. I could work. That is why love America. America is fair to talent and opportunity.

I really like Carol S. Dweck and Angela Lee Duckworth’s research. I truly believe smartness is good but it is determination and grit which is everything. It is the most important factor in life after love and good health in my humble opinion. The Bhagwad Gita says be loving, be humble and have a investigation ( intellect).

Be loving and embrace grit. Every child must be loved and taught to never give up.

Have a lovely day my friends! Thank you!








Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: