Review: Grit by Angela Duckworth

Duckworth’s research on grit is the best-selling book of 2017. Grit, or “perseverance and passion for long-term goals,” has a positive correlation with success in life, education, sports and business. Duckworth claims that her discovery can help schools change their culture to improve student outcomes.

Grit is a book that was written by Angela Duckworth. It is a nonfiction book that discusses the importance of perseverance and how it can help you succeed in life. This book has been praised for its practical advice and research-backed findings.

Angela Duckworth, who is she?

Angela Duckworth, PhD, is a pioneer in the study of grit, or “our enthusiasm and tenacity for long-term objectives,” as she describes it. Duckworth demonstrates in Grit that the key to long-term success is a unique combination of enthusiasm and tenacity she refers to as “grit.”

She is the founder and CEO of Character Lab, a charity whose aim is to “advance the research and practice of character development.” She is a best-selling book and a famous professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Duckworth, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, is well-known in the field of psychology and among those who research performance and success. She has provided advice to CEOs of big corporations, prominent sports teams, the White House, and a variety of other organizations.

Duckworth shares enlightening data, analyses, and tales of persons she refers to as “grit paragons” in her book Grit. These are individuals from many walks of life who, for whatever reason, have been able to build grit. These are the high achievers among us, and Duckworth’s study aims to teach us how to develop this vital characteristic in ourselves.


In Grit, what will you learn?

tenacity – What is it, and why is it important?

Duckworth was seeking for similar themes/traits among top performers across several fields when she interviewed them. She noted two things as she listened to their tales and habits: incredible tenacity and enthusiasm.

“Each was hunting something of unrivaled interest and significance, and the thrill was in the pursuit as much as the catch.” They would not give up even if some of the tasks they had to do were tedious, annoying, or even painful. Their dedication was unwavering. 

To summarize, the extremely successful had a fiery resolve that manifested itself in two ways. To begin with, these role models were exceptionally resilient and diligent. Second, they understood exactly what they wanted on a deep level. They didn’t only have resolve; they also have a plan. High achievers were distinguished by their unique blend of enthusiasm and tenacity. They had grit in a nutshell.”

Page 8 of Duckworth’s book

Duckworth, like any scientist, set out to develop a mechanism to quantify these intangibles once she identified them. Her research resulted in the Grit Scale, a test that determines how much grit you have in your life.

She started studying everything she could about how to foster this amazing attribute in ourselves and people we care about after successfully utilizing these test results to predict success (she used it on West Point grads, her own high school students, and so on). Her results have culminated in Grit.

Our adoration for skill

Society’s fixation with talent and determining who has this “natural aptitude” and who does not is an observation Duckworth makes and utilizes to drive her research. When you distinguish between people who are inherently gifted and those who aren’t, you’re implying that the latter will never be as excellent as the former.

Duckworth’s goal in Grit is to show that although skill is an element of the equation/formula for success, it is not the sole part. She even wrote an essay in which she presented two equations that illustrate the path from talent to success. They are as follows:

talent x effort = skill ——-> skill x effort = achievement

“Talent is the rate at which your talents increase when you put out effort. When you put your newly gained talents to practice, you achieve success… This idea states that when people are placed in similar situations, their outcomes are determined by just two factors: skill and effort. Talent, or how quickly we enhance our skills, is very important. However, effort is taken into account twice, not once. Effort improves skill. Effort, on the other hand, makes skill fruitful.”

pp. 42 in Duckworth

One can see the value of effort when using her calculations and this link between talent and accomplishment. This is significant because it indicates that if you lack natural talent (the ability to gain abilities fast), you may simply put in more work and achieve the same level of expertise. Then you may put up the work necessary to make that skill fruitful and effective, so compensating for your initial lack of ability. 

This downplaying of “natural skill” gives the reader something vital in the development of grit: hope. I wish you the best of luck in developing your grit and becoming grittier.

How to cultivate grit from the inside-out


While Duckworth agrees with the adage “follow your passion,” she believes it’s just as vital to uncover it first. We must be willing to spend time asking ourselves questions about what we want and where we want to go in order to accomplish this. The following are some of Duckworth’s questions:

  1. What are some of my favorite topics to ponder?
  2. What matters to me the most?
  3. How do I like to spend my free time?
  4. What is it that I find totally intolerable? (Knowing what you don’t want to do is also beneficial)

It’s time to explore once you’ve answered some of them. Trying new things, networking and learning from others’ experiences, trial and error, and so on are all examples of this. It’s critical to take action in order to narrow it down! Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to put in a lot of practice time.


Consistent practice and a drive to continually improve were two more characteristics that stood out among successful individuals. This is remarkable given that each of these individuals was already a top achiever in their field. They were, however, unsatisfied with complacency and want to further improve their abilities.

This brings us to one of my favorite concepts in the book: purposeful practice (coined by another expert on high achievers, Anders Ericsson). Duckworth discovered via interviews that specialists not only practice more, but they also practice differently. They spend a lot more time collecting criticism, correcting, and perfecting little elements of a bigger skillset than they do on what they’re doing wrong. Deliberate practice has been shown to be much more successful in terms of skill development and long-term progress. The science of purposeful practice, as articulated by Duckworth, is as follows:

  • A carefully stated stretch objective (a performance target that goes somewhat above your previous achievements/comfort zone)
  • Complete focus and effort
  • Immediate and detailed feedback (even if it’s unfavorable!)
  • Repetition combined with thought and refinement


Duckworth discovered through her interviews and other research that purpose was a major source of motivation for many grit paragons. In this sense, the term “purpose” refers to your efforts to serve others and to contribute to the larger good.

In Grit, Duckworth offers three suggestions for cultivating a better sense of purpose (each from a different researcher on purpose mentioned in the chapter):

1. Consider how the job you’re currently performing may contribute to society in a beneficial way.

2. Consider how you may improve the relationship between your basic principles and your present job in tiny but substantial ways.

3. Look for motivation in a positive role model.

“One source of passion is interest. Another is purpose, which is defined as the desire to contribute to the well-being of others. Gritty people’s mature passions rely on both.”

143 in Duckworth


Finally, hope is the final quality required to develop grit from inside. Duckworth is referring to our notion that we may progress at any moment in any topic or talent. Many of us adopt identities based on our flaws. I’m sure you’ve heard someone say things like “Oh, I’m not good at arithmetic,” “I’m not good at talking on the phone,” and so on.

To create grit from inside, you must believe that with enough work and drive, you can grow and improve in any field. Duckworth also offers a number of additional tales, facts, and experiences about how hope affects our ability to attain our goals in the future.

“Grit is based on a distinct type of optimism. It is based on the belief that our own efforts will help us better our situation in the future. I believe tomorrow will be better, as opposed to I commit to make tomorrow better. Gritty people’s optimism has little to do with chance and everything to do with getting back on their feet.”

169 in Duckworth

Duckworth sums up this lesson on growing grit from inside by saying:

“Interest, practice, purpose, and hope are not psychological assets.” Commodities are either you have it or you don’t have it. You may learn to identify, develop, and expand your passions. Discipline is something that can be learned. You may develop a feeling of meaning and purpose. You can also teach yourself to be hopeful.”

Page 92 of Duckworth’s book

How to develop grit from the inside out

Locate a Difficult Environment

When we spend time in a certain place or culture, we have a natural tendency to follow its laws and standards. After all, we don’t want to be labeled as outsiders or ostracized. As a result, according to Duckworth, we may utilize social pressure to enhance our own lives. For example, you could think a professional athlete is insane for constantly working out at 4:30 a.m. That is, until you realize the rest of his/her squad is waiting at the gym for them to do the same. 

As a result, if you want to accomplish remarkable results and become a high achiever in your field, meet and spend time with others who are doing/aiming for the same things. When everyone around you is having a good time, the extraordinary work ethic necessary to continually improve won’t seem so overwhelming.

“The bottom line on culture and grit is this: If you want to be grittier, join a gritty community.” Create a gritty culture if you’re a leader who wants the individuals in your business to be grittier.”

p. 245 in Duckworth

Final Score: 9.4/10

Duckworth’s ideals in Grit have inspired millions of people all around the globe to live grittier lives. Grit serves as a guide to creating and maintaining grit, whether you currently have it or wish to acquire it. 

Angela Duckworth makes the topic of accomplishment both fascinating and simple to grasp. I’m going to keep using the material in this book to help me approach life with more grit, and I hope you can too! More information on Angela Duckworth, this book, and her content can be found here.

Do you want to see how gritty you are? Take the Grit Scale for a test drive. Finally, if you loved this article, you’ll appreciate my review of Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Habits!

Grit, by Angela Duckworth, is a book about the power of passion and perseverance. Her research shows that grit is more important than IQ when it comes to success. The author also gives advice on how to develop grit in children. Reference: grit test.

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