My mother used to say, in a sing-songy voice, “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” I bet someone in your life said that to you at some point. Another one I used to hear is “practice makes perfect.” In fact, I’m sure I’ve said it to my own kidlets. Or the adage I heard Joel Salatin say, in a talk once, “If at first you don’t suck a seed, suck, suck, suck till you do suck a seed.” The premise is that we all need to keep trying and don’t give up when things get hard, or when it doesn’t work the first time.
In the book, Outliers, the story of success, Malcom Gladwell suggests that 10,000 hours is the magic number where a person moves from apprentice to mastery, assuming some innate talent. How many of us have the time or money to invest 10,000 hours in a skill, before we see a reward? Grit to Great takes the concept of perseverance beyond the talented master and makes it reachable for the rest of us.
Grit to Great, How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck take you from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval (Crown Publishing Group: New York) 2015
Can perseverance, passion, and guts help you be successful as a homesteader? Or make you successful in business? Or make you happy in life? Thaler and Koval think so. In fact they think that stick-to-it-iveness is what sets the successful person apart from the mediocre. And as they tell it, grit can be learned and developed. So success is within the reach of each of us.
You don’t need talent to get ahead in your career, or even good grades or good luck. Luck comes to those who don’t give up. Grit to Great is about how to achieve success in business and life by setting goals, working hard, going beyond talent and entitlement to help you stand out. If you are ready to face your goals with hard work and work past the inevitable failures, this book will give you a few tools to help you succeed in whatever you plan to do. There are real life stories to illustrate the point of each chapter. Actionable steps to help you build your Grit quotient in real life are given at the end of each chapter.
It’s a self-help book that is typical of the genre written by a couple of advertising executives and copy writers. The words flow easily and effortlessly so it will draw you right along with its promises of success, if you’ll apply a little perseverance, creativity, and tenacity.
The stories are engaging and inspiring, like the one about James Henry who learned to read at the age of 96, and then published his memoir at 98. The story of Google Senior Manager Sabrina Farmer who ran a triathlon and then a marathon and defeated her self-doubt, will inspire you to look beyond your self-talk. The story of Eleanor Longden, who finished her PhD in psychology in spite of being diagnosed with schizophrenia, will show you that no matter what your handicap if you want it bad enough you can reach your own goal. These are exceptional stories of people who faced adversity and through grit and determination completed their goals.
The book is compact, tidy, and will fit easily in your purse or briefcase to read while you are commuting or waiting for an appointment. The authors’ style is upbeat, fresh, and insightful. Even though it’s not my usual genre, once I started reading Grit to Great I couldn’t put it down. Thaler and Koval are good story tellers.
Of course, just reading a book won’t make you successful. It’s only a book. It’s not a coach. It’s not your boss. It’s not your mentor. To be successful you actually need to have grit and determination. And it helps to have a goal worth fighting for. Having an accountability partner to help you stay on track can’t hurt either. So get the book. Read the book. Knowing that other people with seemingly insurmountable difficulties made it through, means you can do it, too, if you don’t give up.