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How people win – the key ingredients for success

The right combination of character traits leads to winning and success. Here’s what to look for and cultivate.

Grit and determination are the most important factors in winning.

Verbal skills, mathematical aptitude, and the ability to read patterns – measurements of IQ – are all considered important markers of future potential and success. We teach them, we test for them, and we often place what turns out to be a disproportionate amount of emphasis on these indicators in school and work.

A high IQ leads to automatic success, right? Not so fast.

Recent evidence shows there are several other ingredients that contribute to winning and success even more so than highly-developed cognitive skills. It turns out that character traits like grit, optimism and curiosity are more closely correlated with success than a high GPA.

Paul Tough’s book  “How Children Succeed:  Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character” focuses on how to identify and cultivate the right character traits in children. I think we can also learn a lot about what to look for and cultivate in employees and colleagues.

Tough sifts through a lot of research on the ideal set of universally respected virtues and character strengths. Here are seven keybook-children-succeed traits identified in his book:

grit: perseverance, finishing what one starts

self-control: regulation of what one feels and does

zest: approaching life with excitement and energy

social intelligence: being aware of the motives and feelings of others

gratitude: being aware and thankful for good things that happen

optimism: expecting the best and working to achieve it

curiosity: taking an interest in all ongoing experiences

People with the above character strengths typically do better in social relationships, have fewer health problems, live longer, and are more likely be fulfilled in their careers which means they do better at their jobs. Nice people to have on your team.

Big brains are good, but balanced brains are even better. That’s how people win.

Have a great week.

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