T.A.S. closed out the Character Day 2016 by re-watching the interview between Let It Ripple founder Tiffany Shlain and Angela Duckworth, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology, University of Penn, and author of best-selling book called GRIT. It’s a crazy interview where Dr. Duckworth gets kicked out of a conference room during the interview and moves herself to a closet to continue the conversation, only to be interrupted again when a colleague buzzes by. It is a reminder that even intellectual greats, Dr. Duckworth and Dr. Seligman (see prior blog post) are also humans. Real people like you and me.
Here is Duckworth’s formula: Grit = passion + perseverance
Further (14 min) in the video Duckworth describes passion as “intrinsic interest,” where a person feels meaning and purpose. When you have interest combined with purpose the result is an inner burning that propels towards action.
And grit is one of 24 character strengths defined by Dr. Seligman and Peterson, then further illustrated by Shlain in the periodic table of character strengths. Reference is made to the early work by philosopher Aristotle, who defines virtuous character in Nicomachean Ethics II.7 (reference) as:
“Excellence [of character], then, is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it. Now it is a mean between two vices, that which depends on excess and that which depends on defect. (1106b36–1107a3)
By calling excellence of character a state, Aristotle means that it is neither a feeling nor a capacity nor a mere tendency to behave in specific ways. Rather it is the settled condition we are in when we are well off in relation to feelings and actions. We are well off in relation to our feelings and actions when we are in a mean or intermediate state in regard to them. If, on the other hand, we have a vicious character, we are badly off in relation to feelings and actions, and we fail to hit the mean in regard to them.”
Duckworth simplifies Artistole’s definition as “all the ways we behave or that we intend to behave that are good for us and good for other people.” The periodic table for Character Day illustrates the multiplicity of the character.
Duckworth offers how her team (www.characterlab.org) has taken the various dimensions of character and placed into these three groupings:
- Achievement Character (e.g. self control, delayed gratification, growth mindset, optimism, grit)
- Interpersonal Character (e.g empathy, gratitude, generosity)
- Creative / intellectual character (e.g. curiosity, zest, imagination)
With these three areas in mind, she closes the interview with this important point: “this [awareness and intention] enables us to be good to ourselves and good to others.”
I think this point is where I will continue to ruminate on as I close the chapter of learning this past month as a result of Character Day 2016. Thank you Let It Ripple for bringing such a powerful video series to inspire others.