Character is at least as important as IQ as a predictor of success

Getting through high school is not too hard, as long as you play by the rules and do everything you're told. College, and the rest of life, are a different story. Along with developing musical and technical skills, the MMP program strives to help you develop personal skills to help you succeed in business and life. According to Angela Duckworth's research (discussed in How Children Succeed by Paul Tough) character is at least as important as how smart you are, and maybe more so as a predictor of success. Dr. Duckworth has narrowed down the list to the top seven that she thinks are most important:

  • Grit - perseverance and passion for long-term goals - take the test, read the book
  • Self-control - the ability to avoid distractions in order to have time to do the work
  • Social intelligence - the ability to get along well with others
  • Zest  - a feeling of enjoyment and enthusiasm
  • Gratitude - a feeling of appreciation or thanks
  • Optimism - a feeling that good things will happen in the future
  • Curiosity - the desire to learn or know more

In her TED talk, Duckworth says she doesn't know how to build these skills yet, that's what her current research is about. In the meantime she says one of the best ideas she's heard comes from the research of Carol Dweck, which you can read about in her book Mindset: "In a growth mindset people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities." Her recommendation of improving self-control is WOOP, otherwise known as "Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions", which is explained in the book Rethinking Positive Thinking by Gabriele Oettingen and implemented in the WOOP app. Listen to Oettingen's interview on The Art of Charm podcast for more information.

Duckworth was interviewed about her book Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverance on The Art of Manliness podcast.

Print out the grid we have prepared correlating Angela Duckworth's character strengths with some of the top skills identified by David Tough as desirable for graduates of audio production programs and look for opportunities to grow.

  • Effective listening
  • Communicate clearly and tactfully
  • Avoid and resolve conflict
  • Handle criticism and work under someone else's authority
  • Patience
  • Humility
  • Be able to work with a diverse types of people
  • Demonstrate leadership skills, be able to work as part of a team
  • Maintain a sense of humor
  • Build relationships with local community
  • Ability to negotiate

Check out Peterson and Seligman's Character Strengths and Virtues if you want to go deeper. These pioneers of the positive psychology movement have identified 24 characteristics that contribute to happiness. In addition to the 7 that Duckworth has chosen, they include creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, integrity, love, social responsibility, leadership, forgiveness, and appreciation of beauty.

Chuck Surack says that he meets with employees on their first day at Sweetwater to review their operation and expectations. If they don't already know it he teaches them the Boy Scout Oath, which ends with a commitment to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.


Angela Duckworth was interviewed about her book The Power of Passion and Perseverance  on The Art of Manliness podcast.We made an Android app to help you keep track of your goals and track your progress.

Presentation to Music Entertainment & Industry Educators Association, March 25, 2015.

Presentation with Dr. Doug Bielmeier to AES Central Indiana Audio Student Workshop, September 12, 2015.

"An Approach to Fostering People Skills in Music and Entertainment Programs" paper.

"Teaching Communication Skills and Character Strengths in a Music Production Program," Association for Technology in Music Instruction", November 6, 2015.