Grit – what do you think of when you hear the word grit? Is it a professional athlete’s video montage of their extra hours in the weight room mastering their craft (shout out to Eric Thomas’s videos)? Or a persistent student pulling an all-nighter before a big exam? Grit is a characteristic that we associate with the successful and those that work hard. It is something that all of us have to varying degrees at different points in our lives. Consistently applying hard work and determination in pursuit of a purposeful goal is how I define grit.

Angela Duckworthy is a psychologist who has dedicated her career to studying grit. What is grit exactly? Are we born with grit or can we develop it? If we can cultivate grit how do we do that? In her book Grit Angela dives into what grit actually is, why it is important, and how you can cultivate grit within yourself, kids, and the people you care about.

Author of Grit Angela Duckworthy’s 6 minute TED talk

Can you learn Grit?

Talent is not the sole determinant of success and the American Dream or idea of a meritocracy (in a Freshman college class I heard this term for the first time and thought the professors were talking about “Ameritocracy” as in American-tocracy… sorry Dr. Smaw & Dr. Brandon just a kid from Alabama!) which most Americans hold true, supports this notion of hard work. If you work hard on achieving a particular goal you will work your way up the social and financial ladder. Hard work pays off. We’ve all heard plenty of underdog stories of the less talented rising to become top of their craft and the alternate of the privileged squandering away their natural gifts. In fact, we crave these superstar stories of rags to riches and the unlikely hero. They give us hope that we can change and be better off than we are today.

Grit talks about the factor outside of talent that dictates whether someone is likely to work hard and overcome persistent roadblocks. How will they respond to failure? How about multiple failures?

If you are like me then you’ve likely tried a lot of things in your life with a lot of gusto then at some point gotten disparaged or just lost motivation. Sorry Ukulele… Grit is based on a combination of passion and perseverance.

Thus it is these two factors in tandem that determine someone’s level of grit. This makes sense. If you find something you are very interested in you are more likely to dedicate time to pursue that interest. It becomes a feedback loop where you continue to increase your time and effort within that interest.

In Conclusion

All of what I have shared is over-simplified and there is a lot missing. I took the 10 question grit test that is in the book and scored extremely high on perseverance and much lower on passion. When I think about myself (this blog included) I go through phases of extreme focus and dedication to months of inaction and indifference.

As you reflect on your own level of grittiness remember these two things:

·      Grit lies at the intersection of passion and perseverance

·      You can practice, cultivate, and instill grit in yourself and others

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