What is the secret to outstanding performance?


Have you ever wondered why some of the most talented kids in class didn’t go on to excel in that area later in life? Why some people who seem not to have a discernible talent end up becoming outrageously successful? Of course there are many reasons for this but an interesting area of research worth considering is Angela Duckworth’s work on passion and perseverance in her book Grit’.

We all know of people in our lives who have achieved things out of the ordinary just by sheer determination and perseverance. You’re probably thinking about one of them right now. They’re also scattered throughout history. Those with a steadfast resolve to fulfil their purpose, making an indelible mark on the people around them.


What if I was to tell you that you too have what it takes to achieve even greater things?

Although these concepts are not new, Angela’s research reinforces that aptitude does not guarantee achievement. That talent does not equal destiny. She found that regardless of the area of interest, those who were successful had a ferocious determination and this played out in two ways – (one) these people were unusually resilient and hardworking and (two) they knew deeply and steadfastly what they wanted.


Here are some simple things for you to consider about Grit:

  • no effort = unmet potential. Effort is more important than talent. Without effort, your talent is nothing more than wasted potential
  • effort + talent = skill. With effort and talent comes an opportunity for you to create a new skill
  • effort + skill = achievement. Effort makes skill productive and a productive skill is success

The good news about all of this is that everyone can develop Grit.

From Angela’s research, there are 4 key areas of focus:



With a playful and inquisitive mind, experiment with things that interest you. Ask yourself – what do I care most about? How do I enjoy spending my time? What could I potentially become passionate about if I tried it? List it and experiment with it. Work on developing it and give yourself time to get good at it.



With deliberate practice, hone your craft until you achieve mastery. Make it challenging. Fail and try again. Commit to an ultimate goal and chunk smaller (temporary & flexible) goals to strive towards it. Keep moving forward with a mindset of growth and positivity.



Think of what you do as something more than just a job. How does what you do deliver value to others? Have a deep consideration for people and use your talent to serve others. Purpose is the ingredient to a fulfilling and meaningful life.



Having hope means having optimism. It’s the inherent belief that your own efforts can improve your own future. When suffering can’t be controlled, it leads to learned helplessness, but, if you change the circumstances and change your perspective, you become more resilient.


This research can have a profound influence on how we:

  • think about our own aspirations;
  • raise our children and the ethos we cultivate in them;
  • attract hard-working people who are committed to achieving a greater purpose; and
  • build a culture that is focused on a sustainable long-term future.

So, could now be the time to consider what your ‘best life’ looks like? If so, why not try new things, surround yourself with positive people who support you, find yourself a coach or mentor, commit to something that challenges you and work in an environment where a higher purpose galvanises the effort of all who work with you?

Oh and yes, read the book!

Andrew Petersen is a facilitator and coach, helping people reach their potential.