How gritty are you? Grit….according to Angela Duckworth, co-founder of the Character Lab in Philadelphia, is passion and long-term perseverance combined. Grit is said to be behind every extraordinary success and achievement, even more so than IQ and academic ability. During the past year, I have learned about the science and research behind grit and a closely related concept called growth mindset. Growth mindset, a concept coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, is a way of thinking that embraces setbacks as a means for growth. Failing is not a sign of being incapable or unintelligent, but instead is a clue that one aspect of your approach or process needs to be fixed.
So why is grit important for you? Behind every short-term and long-term goal that we set for ourselves, professional or personal, your ability to succeed or fail will depend on your level of grit. Even if you have the ability and intelligence to be a successful writer, if you don’t love writing and/or don’t have a stick-to-it attitude, you will most likely fail. It’s easy for most people to take the viewpoint that successful people have an innate talent or ability that we ourselves lack. It makes it okay for us to not be successful and go after what we want, because we ourselves are not “extraordinary” or prodigies. In her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth points out that grit is the most important decisive factor in individuals’ success. You and I have no excuses; we can be successful and extraordinary!
The Grit Formula
Still wondering about what Grit really is and how it applies to you? Watch a clip from Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk: “The Importance of Grit in Predicting Success.”
The chapter that I’ve found most fascinating in Duckworth’s book so far, is “Effort Counts Twice.” In this chapter, Angela Duckworth lays out a formula for Grit that can help us to understand how grit explains individuals’ success. This quote from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche really stayed with me and made me reflect on how society generally views human excellence.
“With everything perfect we do not ask how it came to be. We rejoice in the present
fact as though it came out of the ground by magic.”
I could look at any other fashion blogger on Instagram or WordPress and tell myself, ‘”So and So” is more successful than me because she’s more beautiful, knows more about style, and has more money than I do. Therefore, I can never learn how to create a fashion blog as successful or popular as hers.’ I’m automatically telling myself that I can’t be successful, so why try, instead of putting effort into looking into opportunities to grow and learn as a blogger.
The best explanation of grit is the following formula:
Talent X Effort = Skill
Skill X Effort = Achievement
Think about your own talents and passions. What are your short-term and long-term goals surrounding this passion? How can you put effort into building your talent into actual skills? I thought about how much I love fashion and writing, and have been trying to build these talents into skills (taking high-quality photographs, using Instagram to gain followers, writing a blog post to draw readers in). Once you have developed your skills, you don’t stop there. Growth is always occurring, you are always learning, and you continue honing your skills and integrating them to fulfill your goals.
Are You Gritty?
I was curious to see whether I could be considered gritty. I’ve always had great grades in school and am a hard worker. I had a bad feeling that grit might be something that I needed to work on. On p. 55 of Grit, Duckworth includes a Grit Scale that she developed for a study about Grit at West Point. Some of the test questions relate to being a hard worker, being diligent, and not giving up, and I felt pretty strong with these. However, the other questions related to being distracted by new projects, interests changing, or switching focus from one topic to another. Ugh! I am always interested in a million new things and 2 years ago I was attempting to write a novel…now I’m blogging!
The good thing about Grit is that it is a formula to success that includes “effort” as one of the key components. The hard part about Grit is that is sustained effort over a long period of time. Luckily, Grit can also be learned, so if you feel like you need to improve with this to succeed in your short-term and long-term goals, you should read Angela Duckworth’s book or research more about it on your own. Here is the Grit Scale for you to test it out on your own.
Tell me…what are your short-term and long-term goals in your professional or personal life? Do you feel like you are gritty? Why or why not? What could you be doing better to improve your Grit?
- My short-term goal is to write 3 blog posts a week for a year, and post on Instagram 2 times a day for a year in order to grow followers.
- My long-term goal is to eventually be able to be a blogger as a full-time job.
Keep thinking about what you want and go for it!
Duckworth, A. (2016, June 14). Angela Lee Duckworth: The importance of grit in predicting success . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42-hh-iMJJI.
Duckworth, A. (2017). Grit: the power of passion and perseverance. New York: Scribner.