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    #109 Angela Duckworth: Grit and Human Behavior

    Establishing personalized habits and rules helps us stay focused, make beneficial choices, and overcome distractions, increasing our chances of achieving success.

    enApril 20, 2021

    About this Episode

    Angela Duckworth is the Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and the Founder and CEO of Character Lab, a not-for-profit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development. She’s also the author of Grit, a New York Timesbestseller that examines why some people succeed and others fail, and why talent is hardly a guarantor of success. Angela and Shane discuss whether human behavior is constant or circumstantial, the mindsets that help us succeed in life, developing our passion, and personal rules for success.

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    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Human behavior is influenced by both individual personality traits and the specific situations they find themselves in. These factors interact and shape each other over time.
    • By raising our awareness and actively engaging in conversations with ourselves and others, we can gain insights into our behavior and make conscious choices for improvement. Additionally, maintaining an underdog mindset helps avoid complacency and fosters continual growth.
    • Continuous effort, a growth mindset, and surrounding oneself with opportunities and the right people are key to achieving high levels of success.
    • Both genetic and environmental factors shape an individual's characteristics and outcomes. It is important to address systemic barriers and provide equal opportunities for personal development, ensuring a more equitable society.
    • By understanding that they have control over their behavior and performance, individuals can improve their chances of success and lead more fulfilling lives.
    • Our reactions to challenges and failures have a significant impact on our personal growth and development. By actively seeking out opportunities to overcome obstacles and seeking guidance from mentors, we can learn to build confidence and resilience in the face of adversity.
    • Embracing specific feedback, even if uncomfortable, is essential for personal growth and improvement. Actively seeking and listening to feedback allows for thriving and continual improvement.
    • Embrace feedback and prioritize learning over temporary comfort. Success in handling negative feedback comes from past accomplishments and secure attachment. Finding direction and passion is crucial for developing determination and grit.
    • Instead of blindly following our passion, we should focus on developing our interests, exploring different avenues, and finding activities that align with our talents and bring value to others. Displaying grit and resilience is crucial in times of uncertainty.
    • Uncertainty can lead to negative emotions and a sense of helplessness. To overcome this, focus on deliberate practice and create personal rules or habits to increase the chances of success.
    • Establishing personalized habits and rules helps us stay focused, make beneficial choices, and overcome distractions, increasing our chances of achieving success.
    • By creating lifestyle and identity-based rules and considering the logic of consequence and appropriateness, we can guide our behavior and decision-making to live a more intentional and fulfilling life.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    The interplay between personality and situation influences human behavior.

    Human behavior is influenced by both the individual's personality and the situation they are in. The debate between person versus situation has been a central question in psychology and philosophy. While some argue for the consistency of behavior across situations, the available data suggests that behavior is not highly consistent, with a correlation of only about 0.3. However, there is also evidence of personality traits, classified in the big five factors (extroversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness to experience, and emotional stability), being consistent across culture and time. The resolution of this debate suggests that personality and situation interact in a conversation-like manner, with the individual's personality influencing the situation and the situation shaping the individual's personality over time.

    Bringing our unconscious thoughts to light for personal growth and excellence.

    Our circumstances and unconscious thoughts play a significant role in shaping our behavior, emotions, and motivations. While there is a conversation happening between who we are and the situations we find ourselves in, much of it occurs beneath our conscious awareness. However, Angela Duckworth suggests that we can bring this dialogue to our conscious awareness and actively engage in it to understand how our circumstances affect us. By raising our awareness and having conversations with ourselves and those around us, we can gain insights into our behavior and make conscious choices to improve our situations. Additionally, the discussion highlights the value of maintaining an underdog mindset, even in times of success, to avoid complacency and continually strive for excellence.

    The Path to Excellence: Never Stop Learning and Growing

    The really outstanding performers, the ones who consistently achieve high levels of success, are never complacent and are always willing to put in the effort to keep learning and growing. They are the ones who understand that there is no diminishing return when it comes to achievement and understanding. While most people tend to stop trying once they reach a certain level of success or accomplishment, these exceptional individuals continue to strive for more. Their drive and perseverance are not solely determined by their genes or upbringing, but also by their own choices and mindset. They have the agency to shape their own circumstances and surround themselves with the right people and opportunities for growth. Nature and nurture both play a role in their journey towards excellence.

    The Role of Nature and Nurture in Individual Development

    Both nature and nurture play a significant role in shaping an individual's characteristics and outcomes. While DNA inherited from biological parents influences various psychological and physical traits, there is also evidence that nurture, including environmental factors, upbringing, and personal choices, has an impact as well. It is important not to overlook the impact of structural poverty, racism, and other systemic barriers that hinder achievement and underachievement. Teaching concepts like growth mindset, grit, and agency can be valuable, but it should be balanced with addressing larger problems such as inadequate classrooms, curriculum, and resources. Ultimately, personal development should involve learning skills like goal-setting, planning, resilience, and stress management, ensuring that all children have access to these opportunities regardless of their background. By acknowledging the significance of both nature and nurture, we can better understand individual development and create more equitable environments for all individuals.

    Taking control of your life through agency and active mindset

    Individuals have agency and can modify their situations to achieve their goals. Instead of adopting a passive mindset and perceiving life as something that just happens to them, people should take an active approach. By understanding that they can control their behavior and performance, individuals can improve their chances of success. This idea of agency is essential for personal growth and development. It empowers individuals to make deliberate choices and take responsibility for their actions. While certain outcomes may be beyond their control, focusing on what they can influence can lead to more productive and fulfilling lives. Teaching children about their agency and the importance of modifying their situations can be a valuable lesson for navigating life's challenges and achieving their goals.

    The Power of Reactions and Responses in Building Confidence and Resilience

    Our reactions and responses to challenges and failures play a crucial role in building confidence and resilience. Howard Thurman's teachings highlight the idea that while we cannot control the circumstances we are born into, we have control over how we react to them. This concept is echoed by Victor Frankl's experiences in the concentration camps, emphasizing the importance of our reactions in difficult situations. To instill this mindset in children, it is important for parents to create opportunities for them to overcome challenges and experience success after struggle. Similarly, as adults, seeking out mentors and coaches who can guide us in setting appropriate challenges and providing a different perspective can help us grow and overcome our own limitations.

    The Power of Specific and Valuable Feedback

    Feedback is an important tool for growth and improvement, but it can be difficult to receive and process. Angela Duckworth shares her experience of receiving specific and detailed feedback after a presentation that did not go well. She initially felt humiliated and had negative self-talk, but she realized that the feedback was actually valuable and changeable. The conversation highlights the importance of specific feedback and how it differs from vague criticism. While it may be uncomfortable to receive extensive feedback, it ultimately helps us learn and grow. Duckworth emphasizes that those who actively seek and listen to feedback are the ones who can thrive and improve.

    The Importance of Feedback and Growth Mindset

    Feedback is crucial for personal growth and problem-solving. Angela Duckworth emphasizes the importance of being open to feedback from others and from the world in general. She highlights that the desire to learn and improve should outweigh the need to feel good in the moment. Additionally, Duckworth explains that the ability to effectively handle negative feedback stems from a history of mastery and success experiences. She also mentions the significance of secure attachment in early childhood, which contributes to one's ability to take risks and handle criticism. Furthermore, Duckworth mentions that many young people struggle with finding direction and passion in their lives, which is an essential aspect to develop determination and grit.

    Nurturing our passion for a fulfilling future

    Following our passion may not always be the most helpful advice, especially for those who are unsure of what they want to do. Instead, it is better to focus on developing our interests and allowing our relationship with our passions to evolve over time. Just like a marriage, our relationship with our passion deepens and matures as we explore different avenues and invest time and effort into them. Additionally, finding activities that are both enjoyable and valuable to others can be a key indicator of where our talents and passions lie. It is important to choose paths that feel easy and fun, but also be willing to work hard and persevere when challenges arise. Lastly, during times of difficulty and uncertainty, it is crucial to recognize when we are most likely to give up and find ways to intervene, whether through mental interventions or seeking support from others. In the current times, displaying grit and resilience is more important than ever.

    Understanding Uncertainty and Its Impact on Mental Well-being

    The psychological dimensions of uncertainty, as seen in 2020, have amplified negative emotions and contributed to learned helplessness. When faced with unpredictable traumas and a lack of control over their outcomes, individuals are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and give up. Additionally, the decision to quit pursuing goals can stem from a decline in their perceived value or a belief that they cannot achieve them. The concept of the 10,000-hour rule, often associated with achieving success, is not solely about the number of hours but the quality of deliberate practice. Deliberate practice requires hyper intentionality, complete concentration, immediate feedback, and repeated cycles. Lastly, creating personal rules, routines, or habits that prioritize deliberate practice can increase the likelihood of success.

    The Power of Habits and Personal Rules in Success

    Habits and personal rules play a significant role in achieving success. Successful people often have a small number of inviolable rules and habits that they follow consistently. These habits and rules put our actions on autopilot and free up cognitive resources for other tasks. Moreover, they serve as self-control devices, helping us make choices that are beneficial in the long run but may not be the easiest or most fun in the short run. By establishing habits and rules, we can overcome the temptations and immediate alternatives that might derail us. However, it is important to create our own rules rather than relying on external sources to determine them. Personalized rules align with our individual goals and aspirations, increasing the likelihood of success.

    Understanding Different Types of Rules for Intentional Living

    There are different types of rules we can create to guide our behavior and decision-making. One type is lifestyle rules, which focus on habits and routines that promote overall well-being, such as getting enough sleep and eating healthy. Another type is identity-based rules, which involve aligning our actions with the type of person we want to become. These rules help us make choices based on who we are and how we want to be perceived in different situations. The logic of consequence, involving cost-benefit analysis, is also important in decision-making. However, the logic of appropriateness, which considers the situation and our identity, plays a significant role in guiding our actions. Understanding and utilizing these different types of rules can help us live more intentional and fulfilling lives.

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    Tom Gayner: Invest Like The Best

    Tom Gayner: Invest Like The Best

    Tom Gayner, CEO of Markel Group, reveals the lessons he’s learned from Charlie Munger and Berkshire Hathaway, how he invests, and the specific way he thinks about opportunity cost.

    Gayner shares the difference between good debt and bad debt, where he disagrees with Munger, and why he focuses on the basics.

    This intimate conversation offers a level of insight and honesty that Tom hasn’t offered anywhere else.

    Gayner is currently the CEO of Markel Group and the Director of The Coca‑Cola Company. He also serves as chairman of the Davis Series Mutual Funds board and on the boards of Graham Holdings and Markel.

    Listen and Learn.

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    Blake Eastman: Learn to Read Anyone

    Blake Eastman: Learn to Read Anyone
    Blake Eastman has dedicated his entire life to psychology and nonverbal behavior.
     
    In 2009 he founded The Nonverbal Group, a  behavioral research and education company in New York City which conducts large scale studies on human behavior and uses a wide range of technologies to systematically deconstruct and improve human communication.
     
    Eastman dives deep into a number of subjects revolving around how we communicate with one another, including the ability to read nonverbal cues, his thoughts on big talkers vs. silent types, how we can communicate with our partners without complaining, the value of watching ourselves communicate on video, understanding the power structures and social dynamics at work, and so much more.
     
    Eastman has also served as an adjunct psychology professor at the City University of New York for six years where he taught General Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and Group Dynamics. He is also a former professional poker player and the founder of School of Cards, the first brick-and-mortar poker school in New York City.
     
    Listen and Learn

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