By Keshav Kartik
I give up; It is too hard; I am unlucky...Have you been using these phrases too frequently? There are millions of people in this world born with the capacity to achieve amazing things but succumb to natural hindrances too early. Is it possible to push through those disadvantages? From Helen Keller to Bill Gates, thousands of people have jumped over the tallest of hurdles. What made it possible? Is it talent? Luck? Money? The answer is GRIT. Grit is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual's perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal. Grit has always been the secret ingredient to success.
People have made phenomenal achievements, regardless of their natural disadvantages. History has demonstrated this truth time and again. The biggest examples would be Albert Einstein and Walt Disney. Early in their careers, nobody would have guessed that their names would be spoken decades after their death. For instance, Albert Einstein (e=mc^2, Nobel Prize & Franklin Medal) couldn’t read until the age of 7. His family, friends, and teachers thought he had a mental deficiency because he was failing school. In spite of the lack of "academic" talent, he found his passion for physics and dedicated his life to it. Ever since, he has been considered one of the greatest scientists of all time. On the creative side of the spectrum, Walt Disney (Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Disney World) was actually fired from his first job because “he wasn’t creative enough”. Did Disney give up? Rather, the firing lit up his spirit to work harder and persevered to create many of the most creative characters of all time. Disney transformed the entertainment industry for kids.
Financial and family issues are part of life and need not be deterrents to success. Take a guess of the future career of a poor, African American girl born to a single teenage mother during segregation who was constantly molested and became pregnant at age 14 with a little boy who died prematurely. What would you say? A fast-food worker? A criminal? No, that girl grew up to be one of the most famous philanthropists and talk show hosts of all time: Oprah Winfrey. Despite not having an ounce of advantage growing up, and innumerable financial and personal setbacks she worked tirelessly to start up and market her business, and eventually became one of the youngest millionaires the world had ever seen. Today, she inspires and helps millions.
Lastly, the majority of people believe that they need to be genetically blessed in order to make major achievements Obviously, genetics play a small role in almost everything, but the ones who don’t let bad genetics get in their way turn out the most successful. Instead of taking another celebrity example, let me talk about myself. For the majority of my childhood, I disliked running. My mile time was in the double digits, and I couldn't complete the mile without walking. There has never been an athletic person in my family for generations. I naturally have very weak bones and no arch in my foot that puts me at a greater risk for injury. In spite of these natural setbacks, I’ve run half marathons, 3 years of cross country, and 3 years of distance winter and spring track. Needless to say, my disadvantages didn’t stop me. Now, I run a 5:20 mile, which is by no means record-breaking, but it’s absolutely unheard of in my family. I could’ve easily quit because of the constant injuries and my natural weaknesses but I persevered to achieve something that I’m now incredibly proud of. Again, I focussed on grit.
Both Einstein and Disney, in spite of their natural disadvantages, became one of the most influential people to ever walk on this planet. If Oprah hadn’t possessed the highest possible level of grit, she would not have been who she is today. Although natural talent and inherited materials aid one’s ability to achieve, the driving components of success are grit because the most motivated always win at the end.