I am going to start my speech with a story - the story of a man who is a Brand in himself! THIS is the story of Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group. Do you know him?
Richard Branson is an English Businessman and investor who is the founder of Virgin Group, which comprises more than 400 companies - Virgin Airlines, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Hotels, etc. In a span of around 40 years, Richard Branson was able to start 400 companies. How is that even possible!
The story becomes even more interesting when I tell you his background. As a child, he was Dyslexic. You all would have seen the Hindi movie, 'Taare Zameen Par', right? It's the same condition the child in the movie suffers from. Due to this condition, Richard Branson did not do well in school. In fact, he barely completed his high school; did not go to College. Who could have believed that he would become one of the most successful businessmen the World has ever seen!
My quest to find out what differentiates successful men from others lead me to a research paper by Dr. Angela Duckworth. The normal associations that we have when we think about successful people is that they are hard-working, they're smart, they have high IQ etc. But Dr. Angela Duckworth, an Asst. professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, points out that 'GRIT' matters more than IQ in predicting the success of an individual, both academically and professionally. She terms Grit as 'Passion and Perseverance for extremely long intervals of time'. Look at Olympic athletes for example. When they work-out, they have a specific and intentional goal in mind, she says. For example, the goal would be something as specific as - Today, I want to work on the angle of my elbow as I reach for the ball.. They work on their weaknesses, not their strengths. They are comfortable being uncomfortable. And they're constantly getting feedback. In short, they are GRITTY!
Going back to my Richard Branson story, Guy kawasaki, in his book, 'Enchantment', recollects a personal anecdote of how Richard made him a Virgin America customer for life. Richard and Guy met at a speaking conference in Moscow. They were both sitting in the speakers' lounge. Richard asked Guy if he ever flew on Virgin, to which Guy replied that he hadn't because he was a United Airlines customer. At that point, Richard got on his knees and gave Guy a shoe-shine with his coat. Imagine a billionaire polishing another man's shoes with his suit! When I say grit is 'Passion and Perseverance for extremely long periods of time', I hope you understand it now. Richard is still crazily passionate about the brand he started when he was 22, over 40 years ago!
The idea behind this speech is to inspire you to be more gritty in your own personal and professional lives. For example, if you want to be one of the greatest speakers of our time, you could find a mentor, look for areas of improvement - whether your tone is right, you are using the right words, etc., practice and focus on overcoming your weaknesses. Once you're gritty about achieving your goal, I feel no one can stop you from succeeding. So dear fellow Toastmasters and guests, here's my 2 cents to you - identify a goal and follow it with GRIT. Goal PLUS Grit EQUALS Success.