Every now and then by some chance encounters, I will meet some interesting characters. The recent friend I met is one that overcame adversity.
The question that keeps running in my head was of all the possible scenarios, why did this person rise through adversity, unlike others who would arguably fail in the same situation? Are there lessons for mediocres like us? (by that I mean people who dont really have to go through dramatic hardships)
I haven’t found a satisfactory framework to explain this but in my previous post (click here for the post), I wrote that Carol Dweck argued a growth mindset is a key determinant of success. Between a fixed mindset (collectively known as talent/ privileged group) and a growth mindset (collectively known as effort/not privileged group), the latter is obviously better even if the fixed mindset starts from a more advantageous position. The fuel to a growth mindset is grit or perseverance.
But what about the in betweens? Mediocre talent vs mediocre effort? Which one, on the balance is more superior? Where is that fine line that separates them?
A good analogy to explain this is the story explained by a teacher. Imagine a classroom with a wastebasket at the front. Every student in the classroom gets a chance to throw a scrap piece of paper into the bin. If it goes in, the student gets wealthy. Naturally those students nearer to the bin have a better chance vs those at the back. However not everyone at the front got their scrap papers in although the % was much higher vs those at the back.
That summarily explains the privilege or talent or social background that some people are born with, i.e. the students in the front rows.
Interesting questions that I hope to have an answer soon:
(1) How does having a goal drive this for both groups?
(2) What are the principles of grit and how do we turn it into a habit?
(3) Must we necessarily go through adversity to develop grit?
On the balance, I feel that this world belongs to those with the right circumstances (i.e. talent/ privilege). However, that doesn’t mean only they will be successful. There will be success spots for the less privileged, although few and far between and it definitely comes at a price of greater effort/ sacrifice.
And here’s the final twist. Nature has a sly way of reshuffling the deck for everyone that to quote Solon, count no man happy until the end is known.