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LEADERSHIP IS A PROCESS OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE, WHICH MAXIMISES THE EFFORTS OF OTHERS TOWARDS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF A SHARED GOAL.
Sunday, April 04, 2010
In 1869, Francis Galton published “Hereditary Genius,” his landmark investigation into the factors underlying achievement. Galton’s method was straightforward: he gathered as much information as possible on dozens of men with “very high reputations,” including poets, politicians, and scientists. That’s when Galton noticed something rather surprising: success wasn’t simply a matter of intelligence or talent. Instead, Galton concluded that eminent achievement was only possible when “ability combined with zeal and the capacity for hard labour.”
Lewis Terman, the inventor of the Stanford-Binet IQ test, came to a similar conclusion. He spent decades following a large sample of “gifted” students, searching for evidence that his measurement of intelligence was linked to real world success. While the most accomplished men did have slightly higher scores, Terman also found that other traits, such as “perseverance,” were much more pertinent. Terman concluded that one of the most fundamental tasks of modern psychology was to figure out why intelligence is not a more important part of achievement: “Why this is so, and what circumstances affect the fruition of human talent, are questions of such transcendent importance that they should be investigated by every method that promises the slightest reduction of our present ignorance.”
Unfortunately, in the decades following Terman’s declaration, little progress was made on the subject. Because intelligence was so easy to measure - the IQ test could be given to schoolchildren, and often took less than an hour - it continued to dominate research on individual achievement.
However, in recent years, psychologists have come up with a term to describe this mental trait: grit.
Although the idea itself isn’t new - “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,” Thomas Edison famously remarked - the researchers are quick to point out that grit isn’t simply about the willingness to work hard. Instead, it’s about setting a specific long-term goal and doing whatever it takes until the goal has been reached. It’s always much easier to give up, but people with grit can keep going.
While stories of grit have long been associated with self-help manuals and life coaches - Samuel Smiles, the author of the influential Victorian text “Self-Help” preached the virtue of perseverance - these new scientific studies rely on new techniques for reliably measuring grit in individuals. As a result, they’re able to compare the relative importance of grit, intelligence, and innate talent when it comes to determining lifetime achievement. Although this field of study is only a few years old, it’s already made important progress toward identifying the mental traits that allow some people to accomplish their goals, while others struggle and quit. Grit, it turns out, is an essential (and often overlooked) component of success.
For more on this fascinating subject, see - http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/08/02/the_truth_about_grit/?page=full