Saturday, June 23, 2012

Are You and Your Job Search Full of Grit?


Jonah Lehrer is an American author and journalist who writes on the topics of psychology, neuroscience and the relationship between science and the humanities.

Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Angela studies non-IQ competencies that predict success both academically and professionally.

In his third book, “How We Decide”, Lehrer argues that decision-making involves both the rational and emotional the parts of the brain and that the single character trait that separates successful job seekers to those who remain unemployed and/or underemployed is grit.  GRIT, according to Lehrer is the single-most predictor of success.

Grit is not just about stubborn persistence.  It is about choosing the correct [SMART] goals in the first place.

Although the personality trait of ‘grit’ was first identified by Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, it was also explored by writer, Jonah Lehrer.  Both of these authors study competencies other than general intelligence that predict academic and professional achievement.  For example, people who possess the characteristic of grit are far more likely to be successful, largely because higher levels this particular characteristic drives them to put in more hours of deliberate practice.

According to Jonah Lehrer, “ Grit is not just about stubborn persistence. It’s no use persisting, after all, if a goal is truly impossible. While you’ve no doubt been bombarded with successful people telling you that dreams always come true, that we just need to believe, that if you can imagine it then it can happen, the dismal reality is that not every goal is worth pursuing. I might want to play in the NBA, but I’m not Spud Webb. I still want to compose the Great American Novel, but I also know that my college creative writing professor was right: I have no talent for fiction. Unless I’m honest about my limitations, I’ll waste time chasing a far-fetched future, which quickly gets very frustrating.”

Dreams do come true.  However, first you do need to pick the right one[s] to be successful.  So, how can you sort your ‘worthy’ long-term goals from your ‘futile’ ones?  How can you ensure that all of your struggles and sacrifices will be worth it?  The answer is simple. If your job search strategy is predictable and mind numbing, change it!  Think about your job search in the same way as you think about your underwear.  Do you actually feel it?  Have you become accustomed to the feel of the fabric on your butt?   If the answer is, “No”, then it is time to change your underwear, i.e. job search methodology.

You must keep your eye on the prize and do whatever is necessary to keep you aware of the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of your actions in order to remain motivated to reach your goals. N.B. It's a marathon and not a sprint.

Do you need a simple recipe for achievement?  Anthropologist Francis Galton, sums it up in this way:
"The truly eminent have ability combined with zeal and a capacity for hard labour"

**Please let me know if you found this post useful and/or worth sharing with your friends and colleagues.

Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog authored by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career that is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. This blog is also dedicated to those who stand a little taller each time they picked themselves up after failing and those who gained the wisdom and humility from those experiences to help others do the same. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at