Angela Duckworth’s Grit had been on our reading list for awhile, so we made it our final Evive Book Club pick of 2018. Prior to reading it, I think a lot of us equated grit with hard work. But as anyone who’s read the book (or even just its subtitle) can tell you, grit is more than that. It’s a combination of passion and perseverance. It’s a factor in determining who succeeds and who doesn’t. And unlike innate talent or luck, it can grow.
Here’s a peek at what else we learned.
Our top takeaway
In a chapter titled “Grit Grows,” Duckworth raises the topic of the Flynn effect, which refers to the remarkable increases in IQ scores that were observed in many parts of the world over the course of the 20th century. IQ scoring standards are continually revised so that a score of 100 is average. The Flynn effect holds that if you tested people from the early 1900s against the norms of today, their average IQ would be 70. Likewise, if you tested people today against the norms of a century ago, our average IQ would be 130.
“When I first learned about the Flynn effect, I didn’t believe it,” Duckworth writes. So she reaches out to Jim Flynn, the social scientist who first described the phenomenon. He explains that the biggest gains in IQ scores have been in areas of abstract reasoning, and attributes these gains to the rise in demand for abstract reasoning skills in school, work, and life.
In other words, as daily life has demanded more abstract reasoning, our species has, on the whole, gotten better at it—at least in the countries where data has been collected.
Flynn compares these gains to the way that basketball has developed over the last 50 years. Once people were able to watch basketball on TV, the sport grew in popularity. More kids started playing it, emulating what they saw the pros do. As individuals developed their skills, they enhanced the skills of those they played with. Now, basketball is played at a much higher level today than it was half a century ago.
This phenomenon also applies to grit. As Duckworth says, “If you want to be grittier, find a gritty culture and join it.”
How we grow at Evive
There are a lot of ways to get better at something, but one of the best ways is to practice alongside people who already have the knowledge or skills you want.
I’ve experienced this myself at Evive. Our offices are filled with subject-matter experts who each bring something different to the table. In the course of working together, we’ve integrated one another’s expertise into our own. It’s been a great lesson in how human capital grows.
Moreover, it reinforces the value of Evive Book Club. Each of us could have read Grit, The Culture Code, The Broken Ladder, or Thanks for the Feedback independently and gained something from it. But by reading and discussing these books as a group, we learned to see them from different perspectives, bringing new ideas into focus that we might not have seen on our own.