Grit. Do you have it?

When Angela was a child, her father repeatedly told her that she wasn’t a genius. He thought her intellectual potential was limited and he worried she might not achieve much in her career.  “Fast forward to 2013 where Angela was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, which is also known as the Genius grant. It was after winning this award that she realized a person’s accomplishments have more to do with his/her passion and perseverance than his/her talent. There was something that mattered more than talent—GRIT.

My book club is reading Angela Duckworth’s book Grit for our January 2017 selection.  I downloaded it on Audible and listened as I traveled over the Holidays.   She starts with what it takes to get through the “Beast Barracks” program at West Point.  She had me at Beast…followed by West Point.

I couldn’t stop listening – Grit is one interesting book.  Angela does a deep dive on who has Grit, who doesn’t and why Grit is important.   The entire way through the book I asked myself “How much Grit do I have?”  

Take the Test-it’s 10 questions.  Your Grit score appears at the end.


At the start of a new year many of us look at how we can improve.  It’s the time we are inspired to make changes, improvements and set goals.  If you do one good thing for yourself in early 2017-pick up the book Grit. Read it- let it seep into your mind.

“Duckworth says Grit is a mixture of passion and perseverance and it’s a powerful combination. Gritty people are resilient, and hardworking, sure.  But they also know in a very, very deep way what it is they want.”

-David Brooks, New York Times

The four main areas needed to become Gritty are:  Interest, Practice, Purpose and Hope. (taken from the book Grit)

Interest: You must be passionate about something that interests you the most.  Gritty people have something they love to do.

Practice: Requires that you do things that interest you better than you did yesterday.  You must be ready to improve on your skills regardless of your current excellence.  Challenging yourself to exercises that exceeds your skill level leads to mastery.

Purpose: Without purpose, you may not be able to carry on your interest for a long time. It is essential to identify how your work is connected to your own well-being as well as to the well-being of others.

Hope: Does not come at the last stage.  It is needed at all stages and helps us see our ultimate concern through to the end. Grit loses when we are unable to get up after a setback.  When we get up it prevails.

In my opinion, people seem to have the most trouble identifying their Interest and Purpose.  When we are young and struggling with what to do with our lives, we ask what am I most interested in? Followed by what is my passion and what is my purpose?  Some of us repeat this process in our 50’s after 30 years in a career. Am I following my passion, what is my purpose? 

 “In a 2014 Gallop Survey two-thirds of adults in the US admitted not being engaged in their jobs. Only 13% of adults around the world call themselves engaged in their jobs.”

-Angela Duckworth, Grit

 Wow!  That tells us that most people don’t love what they do.  

Duckworth says “finding your Passion is a discovery process.  Passion is not discovered introspectively.  You must interact with the world to find out what triggers your interest. It may be a long and messy process but one thing is for sure, you can never force yourself to like something.”

 Can’t do that sitting home on the couch playing video games or scanning Facebook. You must get out, engage in activities, volunteer, try new things—get exposed to resources, people, information. It must be for your well-being and the well-being of others.  Find your calling.

Parable of the Bricklayers

“Three bricklayers were asked, ‘What are you doing?’ The first one says, ‘I am laying bricks.’  The second one says, ‘I am building a church.’ And the third says, ‘I am building the house of God.’  The first bricklayer has a job. The second has a career.  The third has a calling.”

-Grit by Angela Duckworth

At the end of the book Duckworth shares a question from her children asking her if Grit is the only thing that matters?   Angela says “Moral Character is the most important. Grit is an important aspect of character.”  It’s one thing to think your neighbor is lazy, it’s another thing to think your neighbor is dishonest or not trustworthy.”  

“She says Moral Character includes:

Intrapersonal Character: Outside of Grit this includes Self Control. This dimension is predictive as far as academic achievement is concerned.

Interpersonal Character:  This includes self-intelligence, gratitude, and self-control over emotions.  This dimension becomes more important in social settings.

Intellectual Character:  This includes curiosity, zest, and other characteristics that pertain to learning.”

This book resonated with me.  By the end, I felt a sense of gratitude. In my life, I have been most fortunate to be able to say for the most part I greatly enjoy my calling.  I figure that puts me in the 13%.  To me, calling includes my entire being  because I see it as being all intertwined.  It’s difficult to separate yourself from your work and your personal life.  It’s all one in the same.  You are who you are.

I didn’t know these things when I was younger.  It took knocking about a bit early on in my career and my personal life trying to figure out who I am.  I got dusty quite a few times.  Over time I found my way and for that I am grateful.   I still get dusty, I just try to get up a little faster now.

This book put words to the process.  I believe it’s an invaluable resource as we continue to discover our Grit.

“I can't think of anyone I admire who isn't fueled by self-doubt. It's an essential ingredient. It's the grit in the oyster.”

 -Richard Eyre

Until next time.

Sat Nam.