Passion and perseverance for long-term goals
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”—Samuel Beckett
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.
Help students build incrementally toward mastery.
Reflect on a personal success and learn from a personal failure.
Identify your values and write about why they are important to you.
About the Author
Related Thoughts of the Week
When effort is better than ease
The lesson in hard things
How to help teenagers help themselves
Planting the seeds of passion
Purpose over pleasure.
Beliefs about romantic love.
What we can do with our DNA.
Videos about Grit
Highlights from the Grit & Imagination 2016 Educator Summit
Character Lab CEO Angela Duckworth discusses the importance of infusing grit into students’ development, both academically and personally.
How Can Schools Teach Character?
Duckworth talks with Carrie Walton Penner, board chair of the Walton Family Foundation, about how character development can transform lives.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
This six-minute lecture on grit versus IQ is among the most-watched TED talks of all time.
Angela Duckworth—The Secret to Focus in Work and Life
Knowing which goals you should be gritty about—and which you shouldn’t.
Anders Ericsson—Deliberate Practice Makes Perfect
How to apply the formula for expertise to real-life scenarios.
Character is more than just grit.
There are many other strengths of heart, mind, and will.LEARN MORE ABOUT CHARACTER