Pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent, but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” According to Janelle Bruland, a Whatcom Business Alliance Board Member and President/CEO of MSNW, Grit is “a powerful tool for personal and professional success.” (Ms. Bruland’s full review can be read below).

With insights from her landmark research, Angela explains why talent is hardly a guarantor of success. And that grit—a combination of passion and perseverance toward a single goal—is the hallmark of high achievers in every domain. Her research involved teachers working in some of the toughest schools, cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, and young finalists in the National Spelling Bee, as well and lessons learned from dozens of high achievers—including Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll.

(May 3, 2016 Scribner) Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Village Books.

How Gritty Are you?

Review by Janelle Bruland, CBSE
Immediate Past President, BSCAI

Because my own approach to life is one of optimism and tenacity, I was drawn to this book. It is a powerful tool for personal and professional success by improving what Duckworth identifies through research as grit. A psychologist, she found that the highly successful have determination that plays out in two ways.

First, resiliency and hard work. Second, a deep desire to achieve.

In the book you can rate yourself for grit. The first component is your passion score – how steadily you hold to goals. The perseverance score determines how you fare in the face of adversity.

Duckworth notes that if you experience significant difficulty during your youth that you overcome on your own, you develop a different, stronger way of dealing with adversity later in life. Countered with “fragile perfects,” people who cruise through life friction free, for a long, long time before coming up against their first real failure: They often become paralyzed by misfortunes as they have so little practice falling and getting up again.

You can find hope, regardless of where you may fall on the grit scale; you can improve your score with a mindset of perseverance, despite circumstances.

You can build a culture of grit within your company by demonstrating grace to team members when something they try is not a raging success. You never let setbacks hold you back. Use mistakes and problems as opportunities to get better – not reasons to quit.

One of my favorite passages in the book was her passion around instilling grit in her home. She put “the hard thing rule” in place:

  1. Everyone – including mom and dad – has to do a hard thing. A hard thing is something that requires daily deliberate practice.
  2. You can quit. But you can’t quit until the season is over, the tuition payment is up, or some other “natural” stopping point has arrived. You must, at least for the interval to which you’ve committed yourself, finish whatever you begin.
  3. You get to pick your hard thing.
  4. For her high school daughters she added a fourth requirement: Each one must commit to at least one activity for at least two years.

Grit takes practice.

Duckworth summarized that her daughters wish she could relax a little (something this Mom can relate to), but they don’t wish that their mother was anything other than a paragon of grit.

Satisfaction comes from doing something important, doing it well, and doing it even though it is hard. Complacency has its charms, but none worth trading for the fulfillment of realizing your potential.




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