What is grit?

“Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint” – Duckworth, Grit.

In “Grit,” Angela Duckworth, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, explores the concept of grit, which she defines as a combination of passion and perseverance over the long term.

Through extensive research and personal anecdotes, Duckworth presents the idea that grit is a more significant predictor of success than talent alone. 

The book delves into the factors that contribute to the development of grit and its application in various fields, from education and sports to business and personal growth.

Grit: Passion and Perseverance

Duckworth introduces several key concepts, such as the importance of effort over talent, the role of passion and intrinsic motivation, the influence of a growth mindset, and the significance of setting challenging, long-term goals. She also shares the “Hard Thing Rule” for parenting, which encourages children to pursue difficult, passion-driven endeavors.

This is where Angela formulates a success equation that we should all take note of and emulate. Talent multiplied by effort equals skill. Skill multiplied by effort equals achievement. What does this mean?

Grit: 10 Empowering Takeaways for Success

Effort counts twice. Effort holds twice the value compared to talent or skill. This is what differentiates those who are successful in the long run from those who may seem talented at the beginning but turn out to be just average.

Grit: Passion and Perseverance - Angela Duckworth

Source: Grit book, Grit score to life satisfaction.

Maybe here, you guys immediately want to measure your grit score. There’s a scale for it. You can check it out from the book. The questions are a mix of both passion and perseverance measurement, about grit personality trait.

Grit: 10 Empowering Takeaways for Success

Common problems in organizations

According to “Grit by Angela Duckworth”, here are the 5 common challenges we encounter in today’s dynamic environment:

1. Societal misconceptions and expectations

A common problem across all the key concepts is the influence of societal misconceptions and expectations. Society often values innate talent over effort, promotes a fixed mindset, and may not adequately emphasize the importance of long-term goals and passion.

These societal influences can hinder individuals from developing grit.

Angela’s primary research aimed to find the connection, which:

  • From the hundreds of salespeople she monitored, it turns out that within six months, 55% eventually quit. What makes the remaining 45% different and enables them to persevere? Grit.
  • From her research, she found a connection between those who have good language skills and their performance in Spelling Bee competitions. But what’s even more related to performance is grit.
  • Lastly, in the case of special forces or the strictest military unit selection, she found that out of about 1,218 candidates who started, around 71 dropped out. She discovered that the most determining factor for whether someone would endure the incredibly grueling training process was grit.

2. Lack of self-awareness

Many individuals struggle with a lack of self-awareness regarding their true passions, strengths, and areas where they need improvement. Without this self-awareness, it can be challenging to develop grit and align one’s efforts with meaningful, long-term goals.

3. Instant gratification and impatience

In a world that often prioritizes immediate rewards and instant gratification, individuals may find it difficult to sustain effort and persevere over time. This problem can affect one’s ability to adhere to the “Hard Thing Rule” and focus on long-term goals.

4. Education system challenges

In Duckworth’s research on Ivy League students, she found an inverse correlation between higher SAT scores (similar to standardized tests) and grit. Upon further examination, it was clear that students who could complete their studies successfully had high levels of grit.

The education system may not always align with the principles of grit. Standardized testing, grading, and curriculum may not encourage the development of grit, passion, or a growth mindset.

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, standardized testing is a common practice in U.S. schools. In the 2017-2018 school year, for example, approximately 9 in 10 public school districts in the United States reported using standardized tests to assess student performance.

5. Cultural and family influences

Cultural and family influences play a significant role in shaping individuals’ beliefs and behaviors. Cultural values and family expectations can either support or hinder the development of grit, depending on how they align with the concepts discussed in the book.

Benefits of this book

In this book, Angela offers four ways, in case your grit score is rather low: interest, purpose, practice, and hope.

Grit: Passion and Perseverance - Angela Duckworth
  • The first one, interest. Interest is how you can find the characteristics of what your passion was. 
  • The second one, purpose. There’s a difference between those who work just to get a reward or money and people who work to get a reward in the form of impact. Purpose, according to Angela, is the realization that what we do is not just for ourselves, but should also benefit those around us.
  • The third one, practice. In essence, if you want to be valued more, assessed more, you have to be an expert. To be an expert, you need to practice.
  • Finally, hope. Speaking about hope, it’s actually about how we can continuously believe that our lives can be developed, which correlates with a growth mindset.

“Grit by Angela Duckworth” imparts invaluable insights and essential lessons that can reshape your approach to your undertakings. These encompass:

1. Importance of effort over talent

The book challenges societal misconceptions by emphasizing the importance of effort over talent. It provides evidence and real-life examples to show that grit and perseverance can often outperform natural talent.

Duckworth’s research, such as the West Point Military Academy study, provides evidence of how grit, measured by the Grit Scale, predicts success in various domains, challenging societal values that prioritize talent over effort.

2. The role of passion and intrinsic motivation

“Grit” helps readers discover the importance of passion and intrinsic motivation. It offers guidance on how to identify and cultivate one’s true interests and passions, which can increase self-awareness.

A study published in the Journal of Career Assessment found that self-awareness is strongly correlated with career success. Employees who had a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses were more likely to make effective career choices and succeed in their chosen fields

3. The “Hard Thing Rule” and long-term goals

The book promotes the “Hard Thing Rule” and the pursuit of long-term, meaningful goals. By emphasizing the value of delayed gratification and sticking with challenging tasks, it provides a framework for countering the allure of instant rewards.

Here, the book discusses studies on delayed gratification, particularly the famous Marshmallow Test, conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel, which shows the impact of self-control and the ability to delay rewards on long-term success. In the study, children who were able to wait for a larger reward instead of eating a marshmallow immediately tended to have better life outcomes in areas such as education and career success.

4. A clear definition of grit

“Grit” encourages educators and students to adopt a broader perspective on success. It acknowledges the limitations of standardized measures of talent and intelligence and highlights the importance of passion, effort, and perseverance.

Duckworth’s research at schools like KIPP and the Character Lab highlights the importance of character education, including grit, in enhancing student outcomes and overcoming limitations of traditional educational approaches.

5. The influence of a growth mindset

The book introduces the concept of a growth mindset, which emphasizes that abilities can be developed through effort. It encourages individuals to challenge cultural and family beliefs that may promote a fixed mindset and instead embrace the idea that effort can lead to growth and achievement.

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that cultural influences and family background can significantly impact an individual’s mindset.

Case studies

In the realm of marketing and business strategy, “Grit by Angela Duckworth” provides indispensable perspectives and pivotal lessons, poised to reframe your approach across various endeavors, such as:

Case study 1: Pete Carroll – Seattle Seahawks

Duckworth explores the journey of Pete Carroll, the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. She highlights his relentless focus on creating a culture of grit within the team, which contributed to their success in professional football.

Pete Carroll - Grit: Passion and Perseverance - Angela Duckworth

Source: wikipedia.com, Pete Carroll.

Carroll’s emphasis on effort, resilience, and perseverance serves as a powerful example of grit in the world of sports.

Case study 2: The hard work of Will Smith

The book explores the career of actor and musician Will Smith. Duckworth recounts how Smith attributes his success to a strong work ethic, relentless practice, and unwavering determination. 

Will Smith - Grit: Passion and Perseverance - Angela Duckworth

Source: wikipedia.com, Will Smith performed the soccer 2018 World Cup’s official song.

Smith’s journey from a young rapper to a Hollywood icon underscores the role of grit in achieving long-term goals.

Case study 3: The gritty teachers of the KIPP schools

Duckworth showcases the commitment and determination of teachers at the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) schools, where educators go above and beyond to help students succeed.

Grit in School KIPP Schools gritty teacher - Grit: Passion and Perseverance - Angela Duckworth

Source: wypr.org, Grit in School.

The teachers at KIPP exemplify the grit needed to make a lasting impact on the lives of their students.

10 recommendations for business leaders

  1. Emphasize effort over talent

Encourage a culture within your organization that values effort and perseverance over innate talent. Recognize and reward employees who demonstrate a strong work ethic and determination.

  1. Cultivate passion

Help your team discover and nurture their passions. Encourage employees to align their work with what genuinely excites them. When people are passionate about their work, they are more likely to persevere through challenges.

  1. Set long-term goals

Encourage the establishment of long-term, meaningful goals for individuals and teams. Emphasize that success often requires sustained effort over time. Provide support and resources to help employees achieve these objectives.

  1. Promote a growth mindset

Foster a growth mindset within your organization. Encourage employees to believe in their capacity to improve and develop their skills. Encourage a culture that values learning, resilience, and adaptability.

  1. Implement the “Hard Thing Rule”

Adapt the principles of the “Hard Thing Rule” within your company. Encourage employees to engage in challenging, passion-driven projects and provide support to help them persevere through difficulties.

  1. Celebrate grit and resilience

Acknowledge and celebrate instances of grit and resilience within your organization. Share stories of individuals or teams that overcame obstacles through determination and perseverance. This can inspire others to follow suit.

  1. Provide growth opportunities

Offer opportunities for skill development and personal growth. Invest in training, mentorship, and professional development programs to help employees continually improve and advance in their careers.

  1. Encourage learning from failure

Create a culture where failure is seen as an opportunity to learn and grow. Encourage employees to analyze their mistakes, adapt their strategies, and persist in the face of setbacks.

  1. Measure and assess grit

Develop ways to assess and measure grit within your organization. Use data and metrics to understand how grit influences performance and success. This can help in talent management and decision-making.

  1. Lead by example

Demonstrate grit and perseverance in your leadership. Your actions and attitude can set the tone for the entire organization. Show that you are committed to long-term goals and are willing to put in the effort to achieve them.

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In conclusion, “Grit” by Angela Duckworth is a compelling exploration of the psychological factors that drive success. The book’s message is clear: grit is the key to unlocking one’s full potential and achieving outstanding success.

Grit is about being passionate and having the resilience to persevere. It’s about doing what you love, but also staying in love.

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Read more: What is ERP?


Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Impact Insight Team

Impact Insights Team is a group of professionals comprising individuals with expertise and experience in various aspects of business. Together, we are committed to providing in-depth insights and valuable understanding on a variety of business-related topics & industry trends to help companies achieve their goals.

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