I was sitting on the jhula at home sipping ghar ki chai after two years when I finished the last chapter of ‘Grit.’ This lead to an inspiring conversation on the definition of genius with my grandfather. It was that perfect setting and the hangover of finishing a book that I will carry in my heart for a long time that inspired this post-sharing a few of the many takeaways.

I plan to go to grad school for art, and I got a mixed bag of responses for the path ahead. On the one hand, I am super excited and ready to pursue my passion. On the other hand, some of the underwhelming responses were affecting me. I asked him, “Why is outside validation important? Does pursuing art mean I am not smart enough? What is the definition of smart enough anyway? What does being successful mean and so on.”

Here is how Angela Duckworth answers some of my questions on success, passion, and IQ. Grit is one of the most critical drivers for success in any field. Grit is (passion + perseverance) for very long-term goals. It means sticking with your future day in, day out, not just for the year but for years. Grit is about living life like it is a marathon, not a sprint.

More on what this amazing woman has to say, https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_grit_the_power_of_passion_and_perseverance?language=en#t-310027

Everyone is a genius in their own right:  Whether it is getting that perfect GPA, getting a job in the top corporate firm, or getting that ideal degree, our society has this checklist. Who decides that an IIM-A graduate is a genius and that artist who can paint a 30 feet canvas or that poet whose words can move you to tears is not? Nobody. Even the weakest students sound so smart when they talk about the things that genuinely interest them. Find what excites you the most chase it! Find your purpose, follow your path. People will have their perceptions of you; use them in your favor.

Passion + Perseverance:  It is common to see enthusiasm while starting a new project; endurance is rare. Once you find your purpose put in the hours. Passion is synonymous with infatuation, but high achievers talk about commitment of a different kind. Once you are at the top, voila! Welcome to the club.

Quoting Will Smith: “The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is:I’m not afraid to die on the treadmill. I will not be outworked. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be better looking than me. You got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: you’re getting off first or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple.”

Do not blame the gene pool: Growing up in a culture and society where we worship intellect, many tend to believe that most successful people are “gifted.” It is our ego and vanity that promote this idea of genius. Now, if we think of genius as something “divine,” we do not feel the compelling need to compete, to learn, and to grow. Sure, we all have inherited different IQ’s but what is way more important is having a growth mindset.

Growth Mindset: The brain is incredibly adaptive, like a muscle that gets stronger with use. Part of our grit is inherited, but the more we struggle to master a new challenge, grit grows. For all those of you who might be as short, I am, that is the difference between our height and our potential.

Think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the more remarkable achievements of the future.

Do not give in to the norms; find your purpose. Own it.

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Shanaya Girdharlal

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