Insurable Interest

by: Eric Wagaman

I had the tremendous opportunity to attend a sales and marketing conference in Boston a few weeks back and heard from several top influencers in various fields. One of my favorite keynotes was the 2013 MacArthur Fellowship Award Winner and renowned psychologist, Angela Duckworth, from the University of Pennsylvania.  Her topic of discussion was on grit and common characteristics of those who possess it. Grit, as defined by Angela, is “the marriage of sustained passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.”

You’ve likely seen the word grit is typically thrown around on shows such as Shark Tank and ESPN when describing a driven individual, in an emotionally sappy video, that rises up from a past tragedy and becomes successful. That example is not necessarily wrong, however, it does not provide the full spectrum of what grit really is.

A common trait of high achievers, discussed by Angela, is being consistent with a passion. She explained how those with the most grit never abandoned their tasks or dreams, even in the face of adversity. We have all at one point had a dream occupation, but how many of us are actually taking the steps to make that dream a reality? Sure, if you are 60 years old and you dreamed of being the starting running back for the Detroit Lions, that dream is unfortunately dead, but your dream of opening your own frozen yogurt shop is still alive. If you want to have grit, focus on the same goal over several weeks, months or even years. Don’t just make an errant decision about a job and then regret making it down the road.

High achievers are also tenacious and take no shortcuts to excellence. Famous Swedish psychologist, Anders Ericsson, studied that standout athletes and professional business individuals commit, at minimum, 10,000 hours of focused practice to excel. That being said, while quantity of time committed is important, it is the quality over quantity of practice that separates experts from novices.

“It doesn’t matter how skilled you are, if you don’t do something with your skill you’ll never achieve anything. It all comes down to the quantity of effort you’re willing to muster to convert your talent into skill, not just potential of what you could do, but what you know how to do,” – Angela Duckworth.

Angela also uses the phrase, “plateau of arrested development” when referring to those who become competent with where they are at in life and become stagnant. Goals don’t just magically make themselves happen, unless you win the lottery, then you are just plain lucky.

In closing, here are four very easy steps that were presented by Angela Duckworth that you can use to  dedicate yourself to not becoming stagnant in life and in business.

1.    Have an intention by setting specific goals for what you’re striving to improve.
2.    Give your goal 100% of your focus.
3.    Seek both positive and negative feedback and then have the audacity to reflect, refine and adjust.
4.    Repeat.

I told you they were easy…now take one step at a time with true grit and reach those goals you have always been passionate about and desired to achieve!


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About the Author:

Eric WagamanEric Wagaman focuses on Brand Marketing and Development at the Whitaker LaChance Agency in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is a Senior at Western Michigan University in their top rated Sales and Business Marketing program.  Eric is a driven individual who is passionate about meeting the needs of others by going beyond their expectations. During his free time, Eric enjoys golfing, hiking, attending sporting events and indulging in new restaurants.

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