The Grit Factor for Success

What does it take to be successful? World over, this question is debated, researched, re-evaluated and remeasured. The importance of this question can be argued, but it’s effects cannot be denied. In such a competitive and overwhelming world, it is no surprise then that so many people are cashing in on what it takes to be successful. While success is quite relative the changing notions of the importance of IQ tests have fostered and encouraged better and more holistic views of what it means and what it takes to be successful.
One such theory comes from UPenn by Dr Angela Duckworth. Dr Duckworth is a MacArthur Fellow (also known as the genius grant) and founder of the Character Lab. Her work focuses on grit.
Grit, she puts it, passion and perseverance for long-term goals. One way to think about grit is to consider what grit isn’t. Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something.

Instead, grit is about having what some researchers call an”ultimate concern”–a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow. Talent and luck matter to success. But talent and luck are no guarantee of grit. And in the very long run, I think grit may matter as least as much, if not more.


The concept of Grit has been explored in sports, business, academics and the like. And in all these spheres of life, Dr Duckworth found grit to be a better indicator of long term success than merely IQ tests. Grit, a combination of hard work and resilience matters in almost phases of life, but when asked where it matters most, Dr Duckworth’s FAQ’s tell us that grit often is an indicator of achieving goals. She says,
quote I study grit because it predicts achieving goals, but I want to point out that grit is more relevant to some goals than others. In particular, grit predicts achievement in really challenging and personally meaningful contexts. Graduating from high school or college rather than dropping out is one example. Returning to the National Spelling Bee with hopes of doing better than you did last year is another.  But there are other goals for which enduring passion and perseverance are less relevant. Getting started on your taxes before April 15 takes self-control more than grit, for instance. Ditto for studying for a history test on Friday when you’d rather be on Instagram.
Dr Duckworth’s work distinguishes between self-control and grit. Often assumed to be analogous, Dr Duckworth points out that
quote…grit is related to two other characteristics: self-control and conscientiousness. Someone demonstrating high self-control or high conscientiousness is also likely to score high in grit. But are they so similar that they actually measure of the same underlying personality trait? I don’t think so. I have found that grit predicts achieving challenging goals even when these other characteristics are held constant. For instance, grit is a more reliable predictor of making it through the first, tough summer of West Point military training than either self-control or conscientiousness.
She has created a Grit scale. the scale measures your capacity to stick to a task once you begin it and to follow through. You can take check out your score on the scale here.
Her book, Grit, focuses on why one must be gritty and how can one learn to be gritty. The book is a mix of a personal account and scientific data. You can buy her book here and hear her ted talk below.

So while grit may not be a new idea in Indian households, it definitely has received plenty of attention in the United States.

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