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The Rise

"Grit, our ability to respond positively to failure, does not correlate with IQ," reports A. Roger Ekirch in a Wall Street Journal review of The Rise by Sarah Lewis (4/4/14). James Watson, who co-discovered DNA’s structure, personifies the concept: "When I was boy, I had to reconcile the fact that I didn’t have a good IQ, but I still wanted to do something important." West Point, meanwhile, reports that "a written test measuring the self-reported grit of incoming cadets," was its most accurate predictor of success.

Grit is "more than tenacity … an unflagging commitment to a long-term task that may require months or even decades, of endurance." Samuel B. Morse, for instance, "dedicated his life to his true passion, painting, with the same determination with which he set about inventing the telegraph." Grit occupies just one chapter of this book, which is really about "strategies that have inspired artistry and innovation in the past," punctuated with anecdotes about various well-known achievers.

One attribute of the truly inventive is that they often are independent, not team players, who prefer workspaces "secluded from the comments of peers and critics." Then there’s the importance of play, as demonstrated at the University of Manchester, where "physicists undertake outlandish experiments" each Friday night. (link) And there’s the motivational thrust of the near-win: "Silver medalists in Olympic events are more apt than bronze to focus on competitions to come."