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Grit Book Summary, Review, Notes

Angela Duckworth’s Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, is a book that gives a detailed description of what grit and perseverance are and how they can be developed. 


The book explains why effort means more than talent when it comes to achieving long-term goals, how to cultivate grit through practice, and how to strike a balance between pain and pleasure during practice, and last but not least, how to help your dearest people to build grit and reach long-term goals. 


It is the result of years of research into the psychology of high achievers.


Book Title: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Author: Angela Duckworth
Date of Reading: December 2021
Rating: 9/10

Table of Contents

What Is Being Said In Detail:

It’s an inspiring story of how Duckworth moved from being a business consultant to becoming a teacher, and ultimately discovered her calling in neuroscience. 


The key point of the book is that no matter who you are – a student, parent, teacher, sportswoman, or entrepreneur – passion and persistence are essential to achieving your goals.


Duckworth provides a summary of the research she has done throughout her life and other researchers’ findings that confirm that passion and perseverance are far more important to success than innate talent. 


She illustrates this with examples from cadets, teachers from some of the most challenging schools, and high achievers such as JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, New Yorker cartoonist Bob Mankoff, and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.


A well-structured, easy-to-read book, Grit: Power of Passion and Perseverance features 13 chapters and three sections.


Part I: What Grit Is And Why It Matters

The goal of this part of the book is to challenge the misconception that talent is more significant than effort. People tend to focus on talent and overlook other factors, such as grit, way too often. 


When we cannot explain how someone achieves what many others could not, we prefer to call it a mystery.


This is because no one is fond of mundane stories about hard work. However, the experience of high-achievers and long years of research prove that achievement is the result of countless efforts and the sum of small victories.


In this part, you will see that putting in the effort is the key to success. It is common for many of us to quit early instead of working hard and regularly. Meanwhile. a little more perseverance and passion for our work can get us to our goals in no time.


Through a bit of math, the author demonstrates the importance of effort and consistency over time. Her story shows how perseverance can pave the way to success, but passion makes it happen faster. 


As a result, the definition of grit is the ability to hold onto a goal for a very long time. What’s most important is that grit can be grown.

Chapter 1: Showing Up
Chapter 2: Distracted By Talent
Chapter 3: Effort Counts Twice
Chapter 4: How Gritty Are You?
Chapter 5: Grit Grows


Part II: Growing Grit From The Inside Out

Next, the book explores the four key components of grit:

  • interest,
  • practice,
  • purpose,
  • hope.

Before finding their calling, most “paragons of grit” experiment with a variety of interests. Grit paragons do not merely advance a career they enjoy, but rather deepen it. They also get better with practice. They are typically intentional in their training.


Most people tend to show their highlights rather than their practice hours since it does not feel good to do what you cannot yet do. Just because you’re frustrated with deliberate practice, you’re on the wrong path. 


It is here that purpose or the desire to contribute to others’ well-being comes into play. Gritty people tend to think they’re working for something greater. 


This attitude can be achieved by looking at how your work can positively contribute to society, by reflecting on how it fits better with your core values, and by looking for inspiration from a role model you aspire to be like.


A final ingredient for grit is hope. Gritty people’s hope comes from regaining their strength each time they fail. 


One must realize he can control his suffering and learn optimism. Growth-minded people embrace setbacks with optimism. 


A growth mindset is about working hard, believing you can accomplish your goals, and being open to receiving support and opportunities. Adopting a gritty perspective requires people to believe that they can improve. 


What the author recommends is to update our view of intelligence and talent, use positive self-talk, and ask for help when it’s needed.


Chapter 6: Interest
Chapter 7: Practice
Chapter 8: Purpose
Chapter 9: Hope


Part III: Growing Grit From The Outside In

Toward the end of the book, the author provides a summary of her reflections on grit and how to teach and develop it in others.


One of the insights is that parents can make the decisions concerning raising children, knowing that wise parenting can be accomplished when parents are both demanding and supportive. 


Experience of high-achievers also proves that each grit paragon can name at least someone who, at the right time and in the right way, provided confidence and support.


Another insight is that extracurricular activities can improve grit when there is an adult in charge who isn’t the parent and who is fostering interest, practice, purpose, and hope. 


Ultimately, to grow grit, children have to learn to associate hard work with rewards to be motivated to achieve more.


Finally, the author sums up that grit can be built from the inside out with daily challenge-exceeding-skill practice, or from outside in with help from parents, coaches, teachers, bosses, mentors, or friends.


Last but not least, the book highlights that happiness is more important than success. In the struggle to finish everything we start it is possible to miss opportunities to start things differently, possibly better. 


Our talents are limited, but our opportunities are too. So we should be careful not to impose unnecessary limits on ourselves.


Chapter 10: Parenting For Grit
Chapter 11: The Playing Fields Of Grit
Chapter 12: A Culture Of Grit
Chapter 13: Conclusion


Most Important Keywords, Sentences, Quotes:

Part I: What Grit Is And Why It Matters

Chapter 1: Showing Up

Apparently, it was critically important—and not at all easy—to keep going after failure: “Some people are great when things are going well, but they fall apart when things aren’t“.


The highly accomplished were paragons of perseverance. Each was chasing something of unparalleled interest and importance, and it was the chase—as much as the capture—that was gratifying. 


Even if some of the things they had to do were boring, or frustrating, or even painful, they wouldn’t dream of giving up. Their passion was enduring.


In sum, no matter the domain, the highly successful had a kind of ferocious determination that played out in two ways. First, these exemplars were unusually resilient and hardworking. 


Second, they knew in a very, very deep way what it was they wanted. They not only had determination, they had direction. It was this combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special. In a word, they had grit.


[…] no other commonly measured personality trait—including extroversion, emotional stability, and conscientiousness—was as effective as grit in predicting job retention.


Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another.


Chapter 2: Distracted By Talent

[…] talent is not all there is to achievement.


Before jumping to the conclusion that talent was destiny, should I be considering the importance of effort? And, as a teacher, wasn’t it my responsibility to figure out how to sustain effort—both the students’ and my own—just a bit longer?


So, why do we place such emphasis on talent? And why fixate on the extreme limits of what we might do when, in fact, most of us are at the very beginning of our journey, so far, far away from those outer bounds? 


And why do we assume that it is our talent, rather than our effort, that will decide where we end up in the very long run?


What we say we care about may not correspond with what—deep down—we actually believe to be more valuable. It’s a little like saying we don’t care at all about physical attractiveness in a romantic partner and then, when it comes to actually choosing whom to date, picking the cute guy over the nice one.


The “naturalness bias” is a hidden prejudice against those who’ve achieved what they have because they worked for it, and a hidden preference for those whom we think arrived at their place in life because they’re naturally talented.

Angela Duckworth Quote

We may not admit to others this bias for naturals; we may not even admit it to ourselves. But the bias is evident in the choices we make.


There’s a vast amount of research on what happens when we believe a student is especially talented. 


We begin to lavish extra attention on them and hold them to higher expectations. We expect them to excel, and that expectation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.


By shining our spotlight on talent, we risk leaving everything else in the shadows. We inadvertently send the message that these other factors—including grit—don’t matter as much as they really do.


There’s certainly an argument to be made that tests of talent—and tests of anything else psychologists study, including grit—are highly imperfect. 


But another conclusion is that the focus on talent distracts us from something that is at least as important, and that is effort.


Chapter 3: Effort Counts Twice

 If we overemphasize talent, we underemphasize everything else.


[…] when we can’t easily see how experience and training got someone to a level of excellence that is so clearly beyond the norm, we default to labeling that person a “natural.”


We prefer our excellence fully formed. We prefer mystery to mundanity.


Talent is how quickly your skills improve when you invest effort. Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and use them.


What this theory says is that when you consider individuals in identical circumstances, what each achieves depends on just two things, talent and effort. Talent—how fast we improve in skill—absolutely matters. But effort factors into the calculations twice, not once.


Effort builds skill. At the very same time, effort makes skill productive.


The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is: I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me


You might be all of those things. You got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple. – Will Smith


When it comes to how we fare in the marathon of life, effort counts tremendously.


Staying on the treadmill is one thing, and I do think it’s related to staying true to our commitments even when we’re not comfortable. 


But getting back on the treadmill the next day, eager to try again, is in my view even more reflective of grit. Because when you don’t come back the next day—when you permanently turn your back on a commitment—your effort plummets to zero. 


As a consequence, your skills stop improving, and at the same time, you stop producing anything with whatever skills you have.


How many of us start something new, full of excitement and good intentions, and then give up—permanently—when we encounter the first real obstacle, the first long plateau in progress? Many of us, it seems, quit what we start far too early and far too often.


Even more than the effort a gritty person puts in on a single day, what matters is that they wake up the next day, and the next, ready to get on that treadmill and keep going.


[…] someone twice as talented but half as hardworking as another person might reach the same level of skill but still produce dramatically less over time. 


This is because as strivers are improving in skill, they are also employing that skill— […] the striver who equals the person who is a natural in skill by working harder will, in the long run, accomplish more.


“The separation of talent and skill,” Will Smith points out, “is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel, who have dreams, who want to do things. 


Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.”

Angela Duckworth Quote 2

Without effort, your talent is nothing more than your unmet potential. Without effort, your skill is nothing more than what you could have done but didn’t. 


With effort, talent becomes skill and, at the very same time, effort makes skill productive.


Chapter 4: How Gritty Are You?

Well, for one thing, there are no shortcuts to excellence. Developing real expertise, figuring out really hard problems, it all takes time—longer than most people imagine. 


And then, you know, you’ve got to apply those skills and produce goods or services that are valuable to people. Rome wasn’t built in a day.


 “And here’s the really important thing. Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it.”


“It’s doing what you love. I get that.”


“Right, it’s doing what you love, but not just falling in love—staying in love.”


How gritty you are at this point in your life might be different from how gritty you were when you were younger. […] there is every reason to believe that grit can change.


Is passion the right word to describe sustained, enduring devotion? Some might say I should find a better word. Maybe so. But the important thing is the idea itself: Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.

[…] passion as a compass—that thing that takes you some time to build, tinker with, and finally get right, and that then guides you on your long and winding road to where, ultimately, you want to be.


If in the course of asking yourself these “Why?” questions your answer is simply “Just because!” then you know you’ve gotten to the top of a goal hierarchy. 


The top-level goal is not a means to any other end. It is, instead, an end in itself. Some psychologists like to call this an “ultimate concern.” Myself, I think of this top-level goal as a compass that gives direction and meaning to all the goals below it.


What I mean by passion is not just that you have something you care about. What I mean is that you care about that same ultimate goal in an abiding, loyal, steady way. 


You are not capricious. Each day, you wake up thinking of the questions you fell asleep thinking about.


You are, in a sense, pointing in the same direction, ever eager to take even the smallest step forward than to take a step to the side, toward some other destination. 


At the extreme, one might call your focus obsessive. Most of your actions derive their significance from their allegiance to your ultimate concern, your life philosophy. You have your priorities in order.


Grit is about holding the same top-level goal for a very long time.


A simple three-step process for prioritizing. […] First, you write down a list of twenty-five career goals. Second, you do some soul-searching and circle the five highest-priority goals. Just five. Third, you take a good hard look at the twenty goals you didn’t circle. 


These you avoid at all costs. They’re what distract you; they eat away time and energy, taking your eye from the goals that matter more. […] the point of this exercise is to face the fact that time and energy are limited. 


Any successful person has to decide what to do in part by deciding what not to do.


So, to Buffett’s three-step exercise in prioritizing, I would add an additional step: Ask yourself, To what extent do these goals serve a common purpose? 


The more they’re part of the same goal hierarchy—important because they then serve the same ultimate concern—the more focused your passion.


[…] dogged perseverance toward a top-level goal requires, paradoxically perhaps, some flexibility at lower levels in the goal hierarchy. 


It’s as if the highest-level goal gets written in ink, once you’ve done enough living and reflecting to know what that goal is, and the lower-level goals get written in pencil, so you can revise them and sometimes erase them altogether, and then figure out new ones to take their place.

Angela Duckworth Quote 3

Indeed, giving up on lower-level goals is not only forgivable, it’s sometimes absolutely necessary. You should give up when one lower-level goal can be swapped for another that is more feasible. 


It also makes sense to switch your path when a different lower-level goal—a different means to  the same end—is just more efficient, or more fun, or for whatever reason makes more sense than your original plan.


Chapter 5: Grit Grows

“How much of our grit is in our genes?”


First: grit, talent, and all other psychological traits relevant to success in life are influenced by genes and also by experience. Second: there’s no single gene for grit, or indeed any other psychological trait.


[…] grit grows as we figure out our life philosophy, learn to dust ourselves off after rejection and disappointment, and learn to tell the difference between low-level goals that should be abandoned quickly and higher-level goals that demand more tenacity. 


The maturation story is that we develop the capacity for long-term passion and perseverance as we get older.


[…] being a “promising beginner” is fun, but being an actual expert is infinitely more gratifying.


[…] passion is as necessary as perseverance to world-class excellence.


One story says that our grit changes as a function of the cultural era in which we grow up. The other story says that we get grittier as we get older. 


Both could be true, and I have a suspicion that both are, at least to an extent. Either way, this snapshot reveals that grit is not entirely fixed. Like every aspect of your psychological character, grit is more plastic than you might think.


Together, the research reveals the psychological assets that mature paragons of grit have in common. There are four. They counter each of the buzz-killers listed above, and they tend to develop, over the years, in a particular order.


First comes interest. Passion begins with intrinsically enjoying what you do. Every gritty person I’ve studied can point to aspects of their work they enjoy less than others, and most have to put up with at least one or two chores they don’t enjoy at all. 


Nevertheless, they’re captivated by the endeavor as a whole. With enduring fascination and childlike curiosity, they practically shout out, “I love what I do!”


Next comes the capacity to practice. One form of perseverance is the daily discipline of trying to do things better than we did yesterday. 


So, after you’ve discovered and developed interest in a particular area, you must devote yourself to the sort of focused, full-hearted, challenge-exceeding-skill practice that leads to mastery.


To be gritty is to resist complacency. “Whatever it takes, I want to improve!” is a refrain of all paragons of grit, no matter their particular interest, and no matter how excellent they already are.


Third is purpose. What ripens passion is the conviction that your work matters. For most people, interest without purpose is nearly impossible to sustain for a lifetime. 


It is therefore imperative that you identify your work as both personally interesting and, at the same time, integrally connected to the well-being of others.


And, finally, hope. Hope is a rising-to-the-occasion kind of perseverance. […]. It defines every stage. From the very beginning to the very end, it is inestimably important to learn to keep going even when things are difficult, even when we have doubts. 


At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.


[…] The four psychological assets of interest, practice, purpose, and hope are not You have it or you don’t commodities. You can learn to discover, develop, and deepen your interests. 


You can acquire the habit of discipline. You can cultivate a sense of purpose and meaning. And you can teach yourself to hope. You can grow your grit from the inside out.


Part II: Growing Grit From The Inside Out

Chapter 6: Interest

…most grit paragons I’ve interviewed told me they spent years exploring several different interests, and the one that eventually came to occupy all of their waking (and some sleeping) thoughts wasn’t recognizably their life’s destiny on first acquaintance.


So, while we might envy those who love what they do for a living, we shouldn’t assume that they started from a different place than the rest of us. 


Chances are, they took quite some time figuring out exactly what they wanted to do with their lives. 


Commencement speakers may say about their vocation, “I can’t imagine doing anything else,” but, in fact, there was a time earlier in life when they could.


“Actually, finding a mate is the perfect analogy. Meeting a potential match—not the one-and-only perfect match, but a promising one—is only the very beginning.”


To the thirty-something on Reddit with a “fleeting interest in everything” and “no career direction,” here’s what science has to say: passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.


Paradoxically, the initial discovery of an interest often goes unnoticed by the discoverer. In other words, when you just start to get interested in something, you may not even realize that’s what’s happening.


The emotion of boredom is always self-conscious—you know it when you feel it—but when your attention is attracted to a new activity or experience, you may have very little reflective appreciation of what’s happening to you. 


This means that, at the start of a new endeavor, asking yourself nervously every few days whether you’ve found your passion is premature.


Is it “a drag” that passions don’t come to us all at once, as epiphanies, without the need to actively develop them? Maybe. But the reality is that our early interests are fragile, vaguely defined, and in need of energetic, years-long cultivation and refinement.


[…] even the most accomplished of experts start out as unserious beginners.


[…] experts and beginners have different motivational needs. At the start of an endeavor, we need encouragement and freedom to figure out what we enjoy. We need small wins. We need applause. 


Yes, we can handle a tincture of criticism and corrective feedback. Yes, we need to practice. But not too much and not too soon. Rush a beginner and you’ll bludgeon their budding interest. It’s very, very hard to get that back once you do.


For the beginner, novelty is anything that hasn’t been encountered before. For the expert, novelty is nuance.


Remember that interests must be triggered again and again and again. Find ways to make that happen. And have patience. The development of interests takes time. 


Keep asking questions, and let the answers to those questions lead you to more questions. Continue to dig. Seek out other people who share your interests. Sidle up to an encouraging mentor.


Chapter 7: Practice

[…] whether grit is not just about quantity of time devoted to interests, but also quality of time. Not just more time on task, but also better time on task.


[…] there are different kinds of positive experience: the thrill of getting better is one, and the ecstasy of performing at your best is another.


[…] when you have a habit of practicing at the same time and in the same place every day, you hardly have to think about getting started. You just do.


Whether you can make deliberate practice as ecstatic as flow, I don’t know, but I do think you can try saying to yourself, and to others, “That was hard! It was great!”


Chapter 8: Purpose

Interest is one source of passion. Purpose—the intention to contribute to the well-being of others—is another. The mature passions of gritty people depend on both.


[…] most gritty people see their ultimate aims as deeply connected to the world beyond themselves.


[…] if you take a moment to reflect on the times in your life when you’ve really been at your best—when you’ve risen to the challenges before you, finding strength to do what might have seemed impossible—you’ll realize that the goals you achieved were connected in some way, shape, or form to the benefit of other people.

Angela Duckworth Quote 4

In sum, there may be gritty villains in the world, but […] there are many more gritty heroes.


[…] only a minority of workers consider their occupations a calling. Not surprisingly, those who do are significantly grittier than those who feel that “job” or “career” more aptly describes their work. 


Those fortunate people who do see their work as a calling—as opposed to a job or a career—reliably say “my work makes the world a better place.” And it’s these people who seem most satisfied with their jobs and their lives overall.


[…] purpose is a final answer to the question “Why? Why are you doing this?” […] “there’s a pattern. Everyone has a spark. And that’s the very beginning of purpose. That spark is something you’re interested in.”


[…] you need to observe someone who is purposeful. […] “someone demonstrates that it’s possible to accomplish something on behalf of others.”


[…] “the child really gets to see how difficult a life of purpose is—all the frustrations and the obstacles—but also how gratifying, ultimately, it can be.”


What follows is a revelation […] The person discovers a problem in the world that needs solving. This discovery can come in many ways. Sometimes from personal loss or adversity. Sometimes from learning about the loss and adversity confronting others.


But seeing that someone needs our help isn’t enough […]. Purpose requires a second revelation: “I personally can make a difference.” This conviction, this intention to take action, he says, is why it’s so important to have observed a role model enact purpose in their own life.


“You have to believe that your efforts will not be in vain.”


Chapter 9: Hope

Grit […] rests on the expectation that our own efforts can improve our future. I have a feeling tomorrow will be better is different from I resolve to make tomorrow better. The hope that gritty people have has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with getting up again.


How do grit paragons think about setbacks? Overwhelmingly, I’ve found that they explain events optimistically. […] [they] don’t really think in terms of disappointment. [they] tend to think that everything that happens is something [they] can learn from. […] ‘Well okay, that didn’t go so well, but I guess I will just carry on.’


When you keep searching for ways to change your situation for the better, you stand a chance of finding them. When you stop searching, assuming they can’t be found, you guarantee they won’t.


Some of us believe, deep down, that people really can change. These growth-oriented people assume that it’s possible, for example, to get smarter if you’re given the right opportunities and support and if you try hard enough and if you believe you can do it. 


Conversely, some people think you can learn skills, like how to ride a bike or do a sales pitch, but your capacity to learn skills—your talent —can’t be trained.


The problem with holding the latter fixed-mindset view—and many people who consider themselves talented do—is that no road is without bumps. Eventually, you’re going to hit one. […] 


With a fixed mindset, you’re likely to interpret these setbacks as evidence that, after all, you don’t have “the right stuff”—you’re not good enough. With a growth mindset, you believe you can learn to do better.


[…] more often than we’d like, we get frustrated. We show our impatience. In judging the person’s abilities, we allow a flicker of doubt to distract us momentarily from the more important task of what they could do next to improve.


The reality is that most people have an inner fixed-mindset pessimist in them right alongside their inner growth-mindset optimist. Recognizing this is important because it’s easy to make the mistake of changing what we say without changing our body language, facial expressions, and behavior.


Ultimately, adopting a gritty perspective involves recognizing that people get better at things—they grow. 


Just as we want to cultivate the ability to get up off the floor when life has knocked us down, we want to give those around us the benefit of the doubt when something they’ve tried isn’t a raging success. There’s always tomorrow.


If you experience adversity—something pretty potent—that you overcome on your own during your youth, you develop a different way of dealing with adversity later on


It’s important that the adversity be pretty potent. Because these brain areas really have to wire together in some fashion, and that doesn’t happen with just minor inconveniences.


“I worry a lot about kids in poverty,” Steve said. “They’re getting a lot of helplessness experiences. 


They’re not getting enough mastery experiences. They’re not learning: ‘I can do this. I can succeed in that.’ My speculation is that those earlier experiences can have really enduring effects.


You need to learn that there’s a contingency between your actions and what happens to you: ‘If I do something, then something will happen.’


A fixed mindset about ability leads to pessimistic explanations of adversity, and that, in turn, leads to both giving up on challenges and avoiding them in the first place. 


In contrast, a growth mindset leads to optimistic ways of explaining adversity, and that, in turn, leads to perseverance and seeking out new challenges that will ultimately make you even stronger.


My recommendation for teaching yourself hope is to take each step in the sequence above and ask, what can I do to boost this one?


[…] update your beliefs about intelligence and talent.

[…] practice optimistic self-talk.

[…] ask for a helping hand.


Part III: Growing Grit From The Outside In

Chapter 10: Parenting For Grit

“I’ve always had an instinctive sense that life and nature and evolution have planted in children their own capabilities—their own destiny. 


Like a plant, if they’re fed and watered in the right way, they  will grow up beautiful and strong. It’s just a question of creating the right environment—a soil that is nurturing, that is listening and responsive to their needs. 


Children carry within them the seeds of their own future. Their own interests will emerge if we trust them.”


[…] as much as children need freedom, they also need limits.


[…] there’s no either/or trade-off between supportive parenting and demanding parenting. 


It’s a common misunderstanding to think of “tough love” as a carefully struck balance between affection and respect on the one hand, and firmly enforced expectations on the other. In actuality, there’s no reason you can’t do both.


[…] what matters more than the messages parents aim to deliver are the messages their children receive.


This logic leads to the speculative conclusion that not all children with psychologically wise parents will grow up to be gritty, because not all psychologically wise parents model grittiness.


If you want to bring forth grit in your child, first ask how much passion and perseverance you have for your own life goals. 


Then ask yourself how likely it is that your approach to parenting encourages your child to emulate you. If the answer to the first question is “a great deal,” and your answer to the second is “very likely,” you’re already parenting for grit.


Not every grit paragon has had the benefit of a wise father and mother, but every one I’ve interviewed could point to someone in their life who, at the right time and in the right way, encouraged them to aim high and provided badly needed confidence and support.


Chapter 11: The Playing Fields Of Grit

[…] kids thrive when they spend at least some part of their week doing hard things that interest them.


When kids are playing sports or music or rehearsing for the school play, they’re both challenged and having fun. There’s no other experience in the lives of young people that reliably provides this combination of challenge and intrinsic motivation.


But what about grit? What about accomplishing something that takes years, as opposed to months, of work? 


If grit is about sticking with a goal for the long-term, and if extracurricular activities are a way of practicing grit, it stands to reason that they’re especially beneficial when we do them for more than a year.


[…] following through on our commitments while we grow up both requires grit and, at the same time, builds it.


“In some cases,” Bill continued, “students get into activities because somebody else, maybe the parent, maybe the counselor, suggests it. 


But what often happens is that these experiences are actually transformative, and the students actually learn something very important, and then they jump in and contribute to these activities in ways that they and their parents and their counselor never would’ve imagined.”


Chapter 12: A Culture Of Grit

Indeed, the calculated costs and benefits of passion and perseverance don’t always add up, at least in the short run. It’s often more “sensible” to give up and move on. It can be years or more before grit’s dividends pay off.


[…] thinking of yourself as someone who is able to overcome tremendous adversity often leads to behavior that confirms that self-conception. […] You have what it takes to succeed. You don’t let setbacks hold you back. Grit is who you are.


[…] It sometimes feels like we have nothing left to give, and yet, in those dark and desperate moments, we find that if we just keep putting one foot in front of the other, there is a way to accomplish what all reason seems to argue against.


But the magic of culture is that one person’s grit can provide a model for others. […] If each person’s grit enhances grit in others, then, over time, you might expect what social scientist Jim Flynn calls a “social multiplier” effect. […] one person’s grit enhances the grit of the others, which in turn inspires more grit in that person, and so on, without end.


[…] two key factors promote excellence in individuals and in teams: “deep and rich support and relentless challenge to improve.”


Chapter 13: Conclusion

[…] grit is far from the only—or even the most important—aspect of a person’s character. In fact, in studies of how people size up others, morality trumps all other aspects of character in importance.


If you define genius as being able to accomplish great things in life without effort, then he was right: I’m no genius, and neither is he. 


But if, instead, you define genius as working toward excellence, ceaselessly, with every element of your being—then, in fact, my dad is a genius, and so am I, and so is Coates, and, if you’re willing, so are you.

Book Review (Personal Opinion):

A well-written and inspiring book sheds light on the grit, perseverance, and psychology of success. 

This book was amazing in the way it talked about achieving long-term goals so clearly and yet so profoundly by learning about your interests, practicing them, finding your purpose, and learning to always hope for the best.

It was fascinating to read the stories of successful people around the world who provide lessons we can learn from. There is a wealth of research and evidence presented in the book too. What I loved most about the book is that it also includes practical exercises for testing one’s level of grit.

Rating: 9/10

This Book Is For (Recommend):

  • A researcher or psychologist who would like to know how to assess grit and perseverance from an overall perspective.
  • Athletes or business people who have big goals and struggle to achieve them in the environment of severe competition and very high standards.
  • Those who wish to understand the traits required to achieve their goals and acquire them.

If You Want To Learn More

You can watch Angela Duckworth talking about The Power of Grit and Perseverance at Google

Google Talks

How I’ve Implemented The Ideas From The Book

I decided to challenge my self-imposed limitations after reading this book and start practicing my writing diligently. 

Now that I have learned that effort can drive talent, I hope to improve with time. As a result, I set a long-term goal and drafted a schedule of how I intended to do this challenging task, striving to do better and better over time.

One Small Actionable Step You Can Do

Discover your interests and focus on one that you will deepen for a year or two. You need to practice what you’ve chosen to do everyday, push your limits more and don’t quit until you’ve reached your goal, no matter how tiring or challenging it seems. 

Also, embrace setbacks as an opportunity to learn. Stay optimistic that you will have reached the next level of excellence by the set date.

Grit The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth - Book Summary Infographic