Grit

Passion and perseverance for long-term goals

Strength of Will

“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.

Pulse Check

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.


Try This:

Two Stories

Reflect on a personal success and learn from a personal failure.

My Values

Identify your values and write about why they are important to you.


About the Author

Angela Duckworth is the Founder and CEO of Character Lab. She is also the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, faculty co-director of the Penn-Wharton Behavior Change for Good Initiative, and faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics. Her first book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, is a #1 New York Times best seller.


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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