In the book, he argues that character traits such as grit and perseverance are just as important important to success in life as cognitive skills. Overcoming obstacles in life—not serious traumas, but hardships like a divorce or the loss of a job, for example—helps people develop these vital skills. “It gives them an opportunity to practice failing,” he says, “it gives them a way to learn how to manage failure.” Children need to develop the strength to move on from a failure in life. However, there is a delicate balance that must be achieved, he also notes. Children who experience tremendous amounts of adverse events in their lives often have an extremely difficult time overcoming them, while children who experience no adversity in their lives are often no happier than those who experienced a great deal of hardship. Those who tend to be the happiest and most successful, he says in the speech, are those who have overcome three or four difficult life events, and have developed the ability to bounce back from failure or stress.
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