By Rick Folbaum

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – You may not know who Angela Duckworth is, but some of the biggest names in business and professional sports sure do.

They hire her to get ahead. Why? Because she’s the world’s leading expert in the study of excellence and everyone wants to learn her secrets.

Duckworth is an internet superstar.  Her TED Talk on “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” has 10 and a half million views.

“I don’t think I have as many views of my TED Talk as any cat video,” she said.

“You have millions of views,” CBS4 News Anchor Rick Folbaum responded.

“Look at any cat video and there are 15 million views,” she said.

“You’re close to that,” Folbaum replied.

“You know, maybe,” Duckworth said.

The professor and social scientist is modest, but people all over are listening to her lectures and reading her best-selling books, hungry for clues to be more successful in life.  The main ingredient, she says, is grit.

“I define grit as the combination of perseverance and passion for really long term goals,” Duckworth said. “So working really hard at something for a long time, but working really hard at something that you love.”

Duckworth was recently in South Florida, the final speaker in this year’s Broward College Speaker Series.

Always looking for ways to improve himself, Folbaum was lucky enough to emcee the event and spend some one-on-one time with Duckworth ahead of the talk.

“How do parents instill grit in our children?” Folbaum asked her.

“It’s hard, right?” Duckworth responded. “I have two teenagers at home. I think that I model working really hard. I model falling down. But I hope I model getting back up again… I think a lot of parenting is modeling… I’m not a perfect person, but I try to model well.”

She says that as kids get older, they might find success in different places.

“I think in adolescents, some kids will learn grit in the classroom.  For a lot of kids, they’re going to find more passion outside the classroom, and I think that should be encouraged,” she said.

She says that everyone comes into life with two lists. One is made up of things we can’t control – like our sex, the family we’re born to, the time and place of our birth and upbringing. That’s one list.

“There is another list, and those are the things you can change. And that’s a long list. You can change what you do in the morning. You can change your habits. Your attitude, the people you hang out with.  You can find yourself a mentor,” she explained. “World-class performers don’t spend all their time thinking about things they can’t change. They spend their time mostly thinking about things they can.”

And don’t think having grit means you have to mean.  Duckworth’s easiest piece of advice is one of her last: be nice. As big a star as she’s become, she was certainly that.

Here is the link to watch Duckworth’s TED Talk.

Follow this link to visit her website.

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