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SSA Celebrity: Angela Lee Duckworth #MDNASSA

I am tickled pink to do this MDNA profile for two reasons. First, I love this TED talk. Second, Angela Lee Duckworth, MacArthur Foundation “genius” award winner and research psychologist is a true SSA (Sacrificial Service & Authority).


If you do nothing else, watch Duckworth’s TED talk on grit and the key to success. At the MDNA Institute, we talk a lot about grit and resilience. This is the talk that got us started.

At first, Duckworth may appear to be a KWR (Knowledgeable Wisdom and Responsibility) because of her involvement in research and academics. And most likely, she is a secondary KWR because of her profession. But upon closer examination, especially her youth and now growing influence, you will see she is a very special SSA.

The SSA lives to build a platform of success under people. In Duckworth’s case it is children, particularly vulnerable children. The SSA’s core competence is Leadership Platforms. Duckworth’s research is challenging the world on how we develop success in the education system through grit and self-control. She is also known for helping her own undergrad student become leaders in their own rights by helping them publish and challenging everybody who works with her to achieve a high degree of achievement.

Her childhood and youth also gives us clues to being an SSA. She was constantly volunteering, even to the point of being detrimental to her own health. She was always willing to sacrifice and serve others. Her energy is unending, which is also another SSA trait.

In developing a leadership platform, the SSA must also understand that pain and stress are keys to personal development. An SSA can fall into the trap of enabling others by taking filling needs before others can do it themselves and grow through the challenge. Not Duckworth. She and her husband have a instituted something called the “Hard Thing Rule.” Everyone in the family must choose and be doing one hard thing.

As Duckworth puts it:

“I believe kids should choose what they want to do, because it’s their life, but they have to choose something, and they can’t quit in the middle unless there’s a really good reason. There are going to be peaks and valleys. You don’t want to let kids quit during a valley.”

Beyond all of the above, one of the most telling traits of the SSA, is their authority as leaders themselves–even though they abhor the social spotlight. This is Duckworth to a tee. She prefers to stay in the background, literally disdains the attention and is described as a “reluctant star.” When an SSA has achieved professional success and personal fulfillment, they are granted great degrees of authority because they would never use this influence and power for themselves (think Mother Teresa).

Duckworth known as an “Academic who is a CEO.” A quintessential SSA/KWR if I ever did see one.

Consider me a fan of Duckworth and any other SSA willing to sacrifice, serve and use their authority to selflessly help others succeed.

For the full picture of Angela Lee Duckworth as an SSA/KWR, read it here >

Please note that these are unofficial profiles only and have not been verified. Description is only based upon public information and may represent either primary or secondary MDNA gifts. This profile is intended for educational purposes only to demonstrate the possibilities of MDNA for those that have been personally assessed.

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