Deliberative Practice and Grit

While on vacation, I read a couple of books.  One of them was Grit (which I still have to finish).  It’s a great book.

I was intrigued because her initial research on grit was with West Point cadets. Since I was an Air Force cadet, I totally understood. I made it through BCT. The reasons I left had nothing to do with the process. It had to do with being stubborn. It had to do with a lot of other things that had nothing to do with the Academy. BCT wasn’t easy. But, I survived it and was accepted into the Cadet Wing.

Angela also found that people who go to two-year colleges and finish usually have a lot of grit. 80% of people that go to a community college don’t go on to a four-year school and get a bachelors degree. I left USAFA and went to a two-year school then graduated from Illinois. Funny how things work out. Being a floor trader required a bunch of grit-or as we called it, intestinal fortitude. So does venture capital. More on that in a different post.

Where does that grit come from?

There are three parts to developing grit. Part three is the hardest. It’s deliberative practice. Deliberative practice doesn’t go through the motions. It’s conscious and present. It’s working on things you are shitty at. Deliberative practice can be laborious. It’s not necessarily fun but it gets you to a place where you can have fun.
The measure of difference between winners and others is how much deliberative practice they engage in and how they go about it.

We see Steph Curry sink three after three and he makes it look effortless. We see LeBron James do amazing things and marvel at his physical innate athletic ability. I guarantee they each spent more than the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours to be able to do what they do. I also am willing to bet they were totally conscious about what they did every time they stepped on the floor to work on their game. I also bet that even today, they do a lot of the same things they did when they were boys. I bet they created rituals that helped make sure they worked on everything and didn’t miss something. That doesn’t happen overnight. It’s deliberative practice.

Great entrepreneurs are gritty. It’s not enough to just identify the mountain. Great entrepreneurs start climbing it by themselves and then they recruit people to climb it with them. Every day, they engage in the deliberative practice necessary to get up that mountain. There is an aura around them and you can feel it. They are relentless and they don’t stop until they get to the top.

Developing grit is not easy. You don’t wake up in the morning and decide, “I am going to have grit now.” and the Grit Priest blesses you. However, waking up one morning and deciding you will be gritty is the first step. The development of grit is a process. The good news about grit is that it’s never too late to develop it. You just have to make the conscious decision to start. Then don’t quit.

I know where I developed grit. Hour upon hour in a driveway. In the winter, one glove on, one bare hand. Shot after shot. Shot after shot. Rip, rip, rip. I can’t dunk anymore but I can still knock down free throws like nobody’s business.

Our fund closes it’s first investment today. The highest compliment anyone paid me came from Raman Chadha. He said I was gritty.

Here is a Ted Talk about grit Angela did. She talks about preparing for it in the book.

  • awaldstein

    big fan of that talk.

  • HCH

    Trading floor grit is one of the strongest kind out there. Keeps me going in the real world (HCH)