Fun Friday Links: Grit and Success, We Want to Be Overwhelmed, and Tiny Kindnesses

Filed Under Mindjet

Arwen Heredia

March 28, 2014

Welcome to Conspire’s Super Happy Fun Friday Link Time, a weekly collection of cool discoveries from around the Web. Most times the goal is to get you thinking differently about communication, collaboration, culture, and life in general. Other times, LOLCAT ATTACK! Submissions are welcome, and you can send them to for consideration.

Grit and the Secret of Success

Though the critical connection between hard work and success is not an unexpected one, we’ve all met those folks who don’t seem to have to try very hard for prosperity. In this piece from Maria Popova, she discusses the fledgling movement asking people to redefine what it really means to be successful, what that has to do with grit, and why we should not perceive our own ability to learn as a fixed process. From Brainpickings:

Arguably the most significant work in the field comes from pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth, who came up with the notion of “grit” — that very doggedness essential for success — and went on to receive a MacArthur Genius grant for her research. [She says], “Grit is the disposition to pursue very long-term goals with passion and perseverance. And I want to emphasize the stamina quality of grit. Grit is sticking with things over the long term and then working very hard at it. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

A few years ago, I started studying grit in the Chicago public schools. I asked thousands of high school juniors to take grit questionnaires, and then waited around more than a year to see who would graduate…Turns out that grittier kids were significantly more likely to graduate even when I matched them on every characteristic I could measure. Things like family income, standardized achievement test scores, even how safe kids felt when they were at school.”


You’re Overwhelmed Because You Want to Be

In modern society, every one-up you’re able to throw at the competition is applauded — especially if you have a killer career, tight-knit family, healthy lifestyle, polished appearance, and an inherent knowledge of current events. And although many of us moan and complain about today’s unattainable, super-human societal expectations, research shows that we’re actually glad to be so bogged down by all this peer pressure. From Inc.:

Another huge contributing factor to our sense of overwhelm, according to sociologist John Robinson, who is famed for pioneering the use of time diaries in his research, is self-perception. When Schulte speaks to him for the book, he reveals most of us are a lot less busy than we claim we are. His meticulous documentation of how we spend our days reveals that in general we have 30-40 hours of free time each week.

“It’s very popular, the feeling that there are too many things going on, that people can’t get in control of their lives and the like,” Robinson says. “But when we look at peoples’ diaries there just doesn’t seem to be the evidence to back it up.”

So if we have a full-time job’s worth of leisure per week, what’s driving our constant claims of out-of-control busyness?


Tiny Kindnesses: A Secret Of “Thriving” Successes

Kindness is not something we collectively associate with business. Even great customer service centers more around problem-solving than benevolent gestures. Yet business tycoons like Ariana Huffington point out that it’s not our quantitative achievements we’re remembered for when we leave a company — or a legacy. From Huffington Post:

t’s well-known that details make good art great. Small flourishes define superlative architecture. Tiny considerations make products world-class (“Jobs spent days agonizing over just how rounded the corners should be,” writes Walter Issacson in Steve Jobs.). Subtle word choices separate great poets from amateurs.

I think the same can be said of the way we work. Tiny considerations in poems and products are all about the users, and how the creator can delight them; in a sense, this kind of mentality is what Wharton professor Adam Grant talks about in his research on corporate “givers” versus “takers.” In various research studies now famous in his book Give and Take, Grant has shown that the most successful people in the workplace tend to be the ones who give selflessly to others without expectation of returned favors.