What do you think is more important when it comes to success—talent or effort? What role does inborn talent play in achievement?

It was previously thought that many highly successful people were child prodigies or people born with natural talent and intelligence. However, Angela Duckworth, the author of Grit, dispels that myth and says that the most important trait that will lead you to success is grit— the combination of passion and purpose.

Here is why success is dependent on effort, and less so—on talent or luck.

## How Effort Affects Success

In Grit, Angela Duckworth lays out her theory of grit in a quasi-mathematical equation that encapsulates why success is dependent on effort:

• skill = effort x talent
• achievement = effort x skill

In this formula, skill is created by applying effort to talent. Then, achievement is created by applying effort to that skill. In this way, effort factors in twice—it increases talent, and then it increases the application of that talent.

This means that between two people who work equally hard, the one with more talent will improve faster. But between two people of equal skill, the person who works harder will achieve more.

Another way to look at this formula would be:

• achievement = effort x (effort x talent), or: achievement = talent x effort2

Framing the equation this way allows us to graph it mathematically, giving us a simplistic model of how much a person might achieve based on inputs of talent and effort:

[image] grit_effort_graph.jpg

In this model, line A represents the achievement of someone with twice the talent of line B. When they both put in an effort level 1, Person A achieves twice as much as Person B. However, if Person A stops there and puts in no more effort, but Person B continues putting in effort, B can achieve twice as much as A, even though A has twice the talent.

This model has several implications:

• Someone of lower talent can catch up in skill level by applying effort.
• Even if someone never catches up in skill level, they can still achieve more by applying effort.

Consider an analogy: a low-talent painter, who is aware of the limits of her talent, works to improve her skill by taking lots of classes and creating many paintings. A higher-talent painter may start off making better paintings, but if she assumes her innate talent will propel her to success, she may put in less effort. After one year, the higher-talent painter might be making better paintings, but after two or three years, the lower-talent painter may eclipse her, and end up making better paintings and having a more successful career.

The same concept may apply to academics, athletics, career, and even social relationships.

Success Is Dependent on Effort, Not Talent or Luck

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