Angela Duckworth James Altucher Grit

Angela Duckworth (pt. 3) | The James Altucher Show

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Key Takeaways

  • Being gritty does not mean that you never quit
  • Quitting can be the right thing to do, but we often do it for the wrong reasons
    • We often quit impulsively, to relieve immediate pain
    • A better way would be to only quit after careful reflection
  • Before quitting ask yourself, “Do I want to want to quit? Or am I only doing it to relieve this pain?”
  • People often push too hard, burn out, and quit
    • Instead, what makes one great at something are small improvements over the long run
    • As long as you’re improving on some aspect of your craft every day, you’ll become great at it in the long term

Key Products Mentioned

  • On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt, one of Angel’s favorite thinkers

Intro

How to Know When to Quit?

  • Being gritty does not mean that you never quit
  • Quitting can be the right thing to do, but we often do it for the wrong reasons
    • We often quit impulsively, to relieve immediate pain
    • Only quit after careful reflection
      • When you quit something on a good day, you’re usually doing it for the right reasons
      • Feeling good after quitting something is another sign that it was the right decision
  • One of Angela’s favorite thinkers is Harry Frankfurt, famous for his book On Bullshit
    • He also wrote an essay called Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person
    • In it, he argues that human beings are unique for having second-order desires
      • Second-order desires are things that you “want to want”
      • They allow us to override our instinctive, first-order desires
    • Much of our life is trying to align our first-order desires with our second-order desires
  • Before quitting ask yourself, “Do I want to want to quit? Or am I only doing it to relieve this pain?”

Should Feedback Inform the Choice of Quitting?

  • Human beings crave encouragement
    • Positive reinforcement could come from the external world or internally
    • The feeling of improvement can be a great form of positive reinforcement
      • However, as you climb the learning curve, it becomes more difficult to feel that you’re improving
      • You need to ensure that you continue finding that 1% improvement to encourage you 
  • A common characteristic of high-achievers they are always seeking to improve, whether they can get external feedback or not
  • In writing, James “measures” his work both by how he feels about it and by the external feedback he receives
    • Even if he doesn’t receive positive feedback, as long as his inner critic is satisfied with the work, he’s happy 
    • If both internal and external measures are off, he knows he needs to do something about it

Making Backup Plans and Outsourcing

  • Should we make backup plans for our goals?
    • Scientific literature is not very clear on whether it is good or bad to make a plan B
  • Some goals can be reached through multiple paths, but for other goals, there is only one way to achieve them
  • When your goal involves doing something you don’t like
    • Consider if you can outsource it or if there are other ways to achieve your desired outcome 
    • If you can’t outsource it ask yourself if you “want to want” to do it
      • Usain Bolt was born with scoliosis and had to do all the work himself to overcome the issue and become the world’s fastest runner 

Consistency and Routine

  • People often push too hard, burn out, and quit
    • Instead, what makes one great at something are small improvements over the long run
  • As long as you’re improving on some aspect of your craft every day, you’ll become great at it in the long term
    • Having a disciplined routine that you can perform daily is essential for this
    • Even if tiny, the daily feeling of improvement pushes you to continue

Additional Notes

  • Dunning–Kruger effect:
    • The cognitive bias that makes beginners overconfident
    • Beginners don’t know what they don’t know
      • Once they realize the limited extent of their ability, they might be tempted to quit

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