Grit in Your Teeth

Accountability Purpose Resilience


Key Point: Research by leading academics like Angela Duckworth, finds that one particular characteristic (along with a few others) is a significant predictor of success: GRIT. Grit is the quality that allows an individual to work hard and maintain focus on achieving an outcome – not just for weeks or months, but also for years. Duckworth has developed a test called the “Grit Scale.” You rate yourself on a series of 8 to 12 items. It’s entirely self-reported, and yet what Duckworth has found is that a person’s grit score is highly predictive of achievement under challenging circumstances. Rate yourself honestly without fear. Only you know the score. What did you find out about yourself? 

Check out this video on Grit

My qualitative experience resonates with this research completely. I’ve seen the smartest and the most talented people quit, avoid and/or bail out before the finish line. Even the hardest workers will get distracted and stop. Lots of people procrastinate and ultimately avoid doing anything beyond wishing for something better. I expect little from them. Others are great starters and yet somewhere before a desired outcome, they will give up. And even the hardest workers often get stuck in relentless martyrdom and for some reason can’t get things over the goal line. The people I’m most attracted to are of course smart, skilled and hard workers. However beyond that, they are distinctively exceptional by combining focus and follow through. They do fail often in their journey but you can expect them to get up, dust themselves off, flourish in the learning and carry on. They finish! They have GRIT!!

It is interesting to note that at West Point, a cadet’s grit score was the best predictor of success in the rigorous summer training program known as “Beast Barracks.” Grit mattered more than intelligence, leadership ability or physical fitness. Even at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the grittiest contestants were the most likely to advance to the finals. And the work of Carol Dweck stresses the importance of having a growth mindset as a gateway to GRIT. This respected academic’s point is we can learn grit and perseverance. Although we might respond to frustration and failure by thinking, “I should just give up; I can’t do this.” Dweck proves that those feelings and beliefs, as strong as they are, can change. We need coaches and role models who can teach us to find our grit. 

Character Moves: 

1. While we all must be flexible in this crazy, changing world, having the grit to focus and become really good at something will provide us with value, space and relevance. You and I can do it. It’s never too late. Focus and follow through on what you’re good at and like to do for the long run! What valuable skill/experience/knowledge can we develop that will make us a desired expert? 

2. Focus and following through with grit does not mean staying at one job or even vocation. It does not just mean having a “passion.” It operates from the perspective that each of us is good at something we also like to do. When we can find what’s really underneath that feeling and sense of accomplishment, we often find the elusive “purpose” in our lives. When we focus and follow through on that purpose, grit defines us. We naturally have grit in our teeth. We need to allow ourselves to find it, learn it, practice it and grow it.

GRIT in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: Losing or switching interests and “giving up” seems to be a Millennial issue, or at least a stereotype. Remember that blog you started? Or that spin class you don’t go to anymore? We pick up something new and drop something old on a regular basis. Starting, quitting and pursuing new fads is engrained in our culture to a degree, and always defended with the “well who cares if I stop this?” Yes, with most hobbies or interests, there’s no real significance if you lose interest. However, this lackadaisical attitude is dangerous when it seeps over to those things that do actually matter (your job, responsibilities, and commitments). So that rec softball league you joined isn’t cool anymore? Ok. But, make sure you’re still going to bat for your goals that keep you rounding life’s bases. Hopefully you know the difference.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis