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Grit to Great

How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary

By Linda Kaplan Thaler & Robin Koval
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Grit to Great by Linda Kaplan Thaler & Robin Koval

Many people have talent, but few become stars in their chosen profession. In Grit to Great (2015), two women at the top of the advertising business offer their guide to developing the resilience and hard graft that will help you succeed.

Key idea 1 of 6

Talent won’t get you as far as hard work and passion.

Have you ever had the feeling that others excelled without trying, seemingly coasting on their talent? In schools the world over, some kids never study yet get great grades while others are bent over their books all the time just to keep up. But the truth is that those who rely on talent won’t get far in life.

In fact, talent is totally overrated. That’s because plenty of talented people have the potential for greatness, but realize from a young age that they can get by on their talent without hard work. On the other hand, less-talented people strive for success and self-improvement. They seek out subjects and jobs they care about, not just ones they are naturally good at.

So, while it might seem as though talented people are the winners of the world, it’s actually those that have to work harder who end up being the most successful. That’s because while talented people dream, others achieve.

Take a look at a study conducted in New York by the psychology professor Gabriele Oettingen comparing the study habits and later careers of graduate students. The analysis found that the students who spent more time daydreaming about their aspirations than actually knuckling down to work ended up with fewer job offers and smaller paychecks following graduation than those who put in long hours!

Hard work will help get you the job you want. For instance, the authors run an advertising agency, and a few years ago they were desperate to land a big new client – the restaurant giant Wendy’s.

Their strategy?

They pulled 70- and 80-hour weeks for months, even going as far as to work at Wendy’s themselves to learn the inside scoop on their operations. Not a waking minute went by that they weren’t preparing for their presentation. Well, they landed the contract and Wendy’s said they chose the firm because they worked the hardest – and therefore would be the best.

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