I watched a Google Author Talk earlier today by Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works, a book I have not read. There were a lot of very interesting things in the talk. Like, apparently brainstorming doesn't work -- it turns out the central premise that you shouldn't criticize people while coming up with ideas actually results in fewer good ideas than people would produce without any collaboration. The best method, it turns out, is intelligent, constructive criticism. But the most interesting thing I saw in the talk was that, apparently, there's a recognized personality trait called Grit. Grit describes the quality of sticking through the hard, drudge-like work involved in achieving long-term goals, and it seems to be one of those rare common features among successful people.
Of course, grit isn't a guarantee of success. Lehrer points out that no matter how dedicated he might be, no amount of grit could get him a place on a professional basketball team.
He also mentions a quiz, by Angela Lee Duckworth, which approximates an individual's level of grit. He says it should be easy to find, but it took me a bit more Googling than I expect most people would put up with. So, here's the direct link.[1. I got a 3.4166666666667, which might be good. I'm not sure. It's better than 50%, anyway. My answers were: 1. mostly, 2. somewhat, 3. somewhat, 4. somewhat, 5. mostly, 6. somewhat, 7. not at all, 8. not at all, 9. somewhat, 10. not much, 11. not much, 12. mostly.]