Why does grit matter?
Excellence sometimes seems like the result of natural talent. But no matter how gifted you are—no matter how easily you climb up the learning curve—you do need to do that climbing. There are no shortcuts. Grit predicts accomplishing challenging goals of personal significance. For example, grittier students are more likely to graduate from high school, and grittier cadets are more likely to complete their training at West Point. Notably, in most research studies, grit and measures of talent and IQ are unrelated, suggesting that talent puts no limits on the capacity for passion and perseverance.
To gauge your current level of grit, consider how true the following are for you.
- I enjoy projects that take years to complete.
- I am working towards a very long-term goal.
- What I do each day is connected to my deepest personal values.
- There is at least one subject or activity that I never get bored of thinking about.
- Setbacks don’t discourage me for long.
- I am a hard worker.
- I finish whatever I begin.
- I never stop working to improve.
How do I encourage grit in others?
Model it. If you love what you do, let others know. Wear your passion on your sleeve. When you fail, openly share your frustration but go out of your way to point out what you learned from the experience. Emphasize playing the long game—life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Celebrate it. When you see grit, draw attention to it: “Your work this past quarter has demonstrated enormous dedication. I know it wasn’t always easy.” Praise passion: “You’re so into this! That’s just awesome!”
Enable it. The paradox of grit is that the steely determination of individuals is made possible by the warmth and support of friends, families, teachers, and mentors. Don’t let people you love quit on a bad day.
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”