“Grit” by Angela Duckworth is a compelling case for perseverance and passion as the keys to success in any field. Duckworth is a psychologist, and she draws on decades of research to argue that grit—defined as “passion and perseverance for long-term goals”—is more important than talent for high achievement. She makes a compelling case.
Duckworth provides in-depth examples of grit in action, from the gruelling training of West Point cadets to the dedication required to become a champion spelling bee competitor. She powerfully illustrates, using these examples, how “grit” enables people to persevere through immense hardships and push themselves further than they ever thought possible. I thought the conclusion – While talent opens doors, grit allows people to walk through them – compelling. In my work, I’ve seen some talented people stare opportunities in the eye and walk away from them for fear of the required effort and time. I’ve seen others achieve many great things by pushing on anyway.
Beyond examples, Duckworth shares extensive research demonstrating how deliberate practice can cultivate and strengthen grit over time. People can build their grit and achieve higher levels by engaging in increasingly complex and focused practice. Grit is not an inborn trait, but a muscle that grows stronger with use. Deliberate, focused practice is a key element of Intentional Mastery, resonating strongly with my thinking.
Grit makes a compelling and evidence-based case for perseverance to lead a meaningful, impactful, and accomplished life. It highlights how grit allows ordinary individuals to achieve extraordinary outcomes through sustained effort, commitment, and resilience in the face of failures, setbacks, or other obstacles. People can accomplish more than others expect by developing grit and realising their potential.
I concluded that the book makes five key points:
- Develop grit through deliberate practice.
- Cultivate passion and perseverance.
- Maintain resolve in the face of failures or setbacks.
- Push yourself further than you ever thought possible.
- Achieve at higher levels by strengthening grit over time.
This illuminating work provides a framework grounded in science for cultivating passion and perseverance. Reading is essential for anyone seeking to lead a fulfilling life of purpose and significance. I found the book overlong; there were more examples for each critical area than I needed to make the point. However, there is learning in the subtleties and differences between the examples, just not enough for me to feel I had had a good return on my time reading them all. If you choose to read this book, you can scan the examples and then focus on the ones that resonate most closely with you. The underlying message is necessary, and the key points are essential when facing an uphill struggle. They motivate and challenge us all to use our talent, be intentional, and be persistent in a focused way.
Grit is part of the toolset that enables experts to remain on the journey toward mastery.