Grit True or Grit False?

Getting Grit

Angela Duckworth – Grit

In my teens, I began feeling, as many people that age do, a serious lack of … something. Something I didn’t have but which I believed would enable me to live without the constant sense of malaise that gnawed away deep in my inner space. Within me was a strong sense of “I can’t do it”, whatever “it” might turn out to be, and furthermore, I probably wouldn’t ever be able to do it.

I even reached a tentative conclusion about what the elusive “it” would be, if I ever did find it. In my mind I decided the thing in which I was most lacking was guts. Courage. Confidence. An absence of fear. And since I was a bookish sort of guy, I went looking for a book on the topic. Something like “How to Have Guts” would be a big help, I thought.

Bear in mind this was long before there was an Internet, so I turned to the only thing I had, the public library. But, you know, I never found that book. Eventually I decided that if I ever did figure it out, I’d write the damn thing myself. Well, as you’ve probably figured out by now, that book remains unwritten to this day.

That’s because the only things we feel supremely confident about are the things we’ve already struggled with and learned how to do. But out there on the edge of new experiences, the new territory, we won’t find unassailable self assurance. That’s where we build it, not find it.

The Lady Who Studies Guts

There’s a researcher, Angela Duckworth, who calls this quality “grit” (rather than guts), but that’s just a detail; the definitions are almost identical. She authored a book titled Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. This was after spending decades researching and studying the quality in a wide range of industries, age groups, and personality types. And she has come to some conclusions about who does or does not have grit.

In her book, Dr. Duckworth explores the science of why some people succeed and others fail, and why talent alone doesn’t guarantee success. She shows us that perseverance and passion matter at least as much as talent and intelligence.

Now, I could go on and on, but let’s invite Dr. Duckworth to tell you herself.

Angela Duckworth: “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” | Talks at Google
52 minutes

The video is filled with interesting, useful information, but right at the end, in answering the last question, Dr. Duckworth tells the story of the advisor in college who tried to discourage her, but had the opposite effect.

If you like her approach to motivation and grit, you’ll find bunches of her interviews and TEDTalk speeches at YouTube. Here’s a sampling:

#EIE16: GENERAL SESSIONGrit: Passion & Perseverance with Angela Duckworth
– 51:47 minutes

Angela Duckworth: 2017 Aspen Challenge Philadelphia
– 47:10 minutes

Interview: What Is Grit and How Can You Learn It?
– 32:55 minutes

TEDxBlueAngela Lee Duckworth, Ph.D – 10/18/09
– 18:37 minutes

If you’re short of time and can’t get around to the video until later, here are a few quick points.

Definition #4 at Merriam Webster: firmness of mind or spirit; unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger

If you’re fascinated and really want to read up, there’s Wikipedia

Or you can get Angela Duckworth’s book at Amazon (Kindle version is less than six bucks).

And at,    (click on the tab for “courage, determination”)
synonyms for grit include:  backbone,  bravery,  courage,  courageousness,  determination,  doggedness,  endurance,  fortitude,  gameness,  gumption,  guts,  hardiness,  mettle,  mettlesomeness,  moral fibre,  nerve,  perseverance,  pluck,  resolution,  resolve,  spirit,  spunk,  stamina,  steel,  strength of character,  strength of will,  tenacity,  toughness,  valour.

Maybe this sounds sort of like something you’ve felt missing in your life. If so, there’s lots of material you can study. But know this:  studying is only the first step. After that, it’s another step and another all down the road you’re traveling. Nobody can take those steps for you – the best you’ll find is someone who’ll take those steps alongside you. But don’t count on it. Usually those who need a traveling buddy are looking for somebody to lean on all along the way. Trouble is, your road buddy is looking for the same thing. It’s good to help others and to be helped, but it’s not guaranteed. And it’s definitely  not a thing you’re entitled to.

If you’ll decide to move steadily forward under your own power, then all companionship you find along the way is a great bonus. Keep that in mind, and your journey can be wondrous.

Cheers from sunny Japan.

P.S. – What’s your take on this? I don’t care whether this post pleased you or pissed you off. Either way, what are you itching to tell me about it?

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