Grit: A man of value reflects more than his education

Reylito A.H. Elbo

Reylito A.H. Elbo

I’VE been asked a couple of times with such a looking-back but interesting question: “Why do I write for a living?” Like many members of the Mind-Your-Own-Business Club, I’m not exactly good in understanding such question, especially if it comes from people who claim they read and like my articles.

I’m the type of person who would sit in front of a desktop computer that looked a bit too jurassic or only a few years more advanced than an Olympia typewriter, writing something about business management that if read by a layperson would make him stop and and turn to something more interesting, such as perhaps watch Eat Bulaga or Showtime on TV, thinking: “Maybe that writer is a loner.”

But going back to that $6-million question: “Why do I write for a living?” Well, not exactly. Writing is not my bread and butter. It is a hobby that I started in April 1993 when I was invited to write as an advice columnist for BusinessWorld and also for The Manila Times since September 2002.

My definition of a good hobby is something that should make people blush in disbelief, tempered only with a hint of amusement. But writing is only one-half of the equation whenever I’ve got extra time—which means, if I’m not taking a siesta or doing brisk-walking inside our village. The other half is reading business articles.

I’m bringing this topic up because I’ve just completed writing my third book entitled, “Total Quality by Maximization.” This book is actually overdue, coming long after my 2010 manuscript “Lessons to learn Before They Kick You out of Your Job” and the 2007 “Beyond the Buzzwords.” TQMax will be off the press soon, to be given free to my clients and would-be patrons.

Just like the first two books, TQMax will not be sold at popular bookstores that charge almost 50 percent commissions, not to mention that before you could make a deal with these people, you’d have to hurdle a protracted business transaction that apes the red tape normally experienced in government agencies. And assuming that you’ve succeeded in dealing with them, you would have to wait for ages before you could get paid.

In the case of TQMax — if you want to get hold of a copy, we can send it to you via LBC at P480 apiece.

I have an extreme interest in writing, reaching to a point where, if I don’t write something, I will most likely feel dizzy and at times, even vomit (stuff that looks like a mix of rice and alphabet soup). I am kidding, of course. What I’m trying to say is that writing keeps me going. I will stop short of calling it as my talent, though, because over-confidence may seep in, or you may even call me a bigmouth.

Now, I’m starting to believe psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth, who is promoting the idea of “grit,” or focused persistence. It’s not talent or even IQ that makes one successful sometimes. Duckworth says a guarantor of success is not always talent, but the passion or never-ending follow-through on one’s commitment.

Grit can also be called perseverance, or working against all odds or limitations. Regardless of the obstacles, one must do a lot of things to overcome the hurdles toward the achievement of one’s dream. Grit also complements my other passion—kaizen, or continuous improvement. You know what I mean—never-ending improvement is much better than a much-delayed perfection.

Again, talent or IQ alone will not help you succeed. Look at our government leaders who had been privileged to study in exclusive schools here and abroad. Sometimes, they make you wonder why, after completing multiple post-graduate degrees, some of them are unable to make sound management decisions.

We’ve been hearing a lot of negative public clamor against Jose Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya, the department secretary of transportation and communications. On top of our complaints is the mismanagement of MRT, the long-delayed issuance of license plates and renewal of drivers’ licenses. The list could be endless, and many of the causes border on plain incompetence, if not corruption.

Now, compare this with his academic and professional credentials. Check the internet for his qualifications and you’ll be overwhelmed with admiration for Abaya. Now, you know what I mean?

Anyway, I have to say, time and again, that education is important, but what you do with it is what makes you a man of value.

Rey Elbo is a business consultant on human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Send feedback to or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random management thoughts.


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