Want to be Successful? “Develop Your Grit” Says Angela Duckworth

I first met Angela Duckworth and her husband back in the mid 1990’s when we were all working at McKinsey in New York. I found Angela to be intelligent, poised and charming and I had the pleasure of working with her husband on one of my project teams.

Fast forward some 15 plus years, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Angela’s noteworthy TED Talk. I watched it several times and couldn’t wait to get a copy of her highly anticipated book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”. ​
The book doesn’t disappoint. Angela Duckworth has conducted pioneering research on a question asked by millions: Why do some people succeed while others do not? As a consultant turned educator, she witnessed first-hand that the success or failure of her students defied the standard predictors. The oddity of it propelled her to go on a mission of discovery to find the key to success and hopefully open a new paradigm for all those working hard to succeed in life. These are questions that have pulled at me as well as I’ve mentored women, youth and entrepreneurs over the years.

Never Give Up

In her New York Times bestseller, Angela Duckworth lays out her discovery of this ingredient she terms “grit”, an unwavering passion for and focus on a single goal or mission. She found that grit, or perseverance, is the determining factor of success. In her book, Angela shares with her readers the amazing insights she gleaned from first-hand research conducted in the field. She observed teachers in inner-city schools, students at West Point, competitors in the national spelling bee contest, entrepreneurs, and employees in difficult work environments.

The Ultimate Self-Help Book

Grit is more than just a review of her findings. Angela Duckworth also gives readers a plan of action to help measure and cultivate their grit. For instance, her research revealed that when a person believes that their goal is benefiting the world, they are more likely to be successful. Therefore, one of her steps for building grit is to find a higher purpose in one’s personal goals.

She’s developed a test where you can calculate your grit score with passion and perseverance dimensions. I took the test and scored pretty high (4.5), but like most (including the author), I rated higher on perseverance than passion. You can even see where you rank relative to American adults.

Additionally, Angela states that each individual has the power to increase their “grittiness,” that grit can grow over time and lays out key areas to focus on to increase grit. There is applicability both for adults and also some great guidelines for instilling grit in children. Coincidentally, the head of my children’s school just recommended “Grit” as recommended reading to all of us parents.

I believe that Grit is a game-changer. Angela’s research proves that the ruling factor in whether you will succeed or not is not connected your talents or intellectual abilities, but what you do with the thoughts that enter your mind when you fail. Do those thoughts stop you, or do you overcome them and continue with your mission? The grittiest folks seem to do just that. ​