Grit: Angela Duckworth

After years and years of research Angela Duckworth argues that the number one character trait to success is Grit. Which makes one ask, is Grit innate or is it developed? For any coach or teacher the answer to that question can dramatically change your teaching philosophy. In her book and her famous TED Talk, Duckworth makes outstanding points and raises thought provoking questions about how education is molded to help people succeed. Below are incredible quotes from her book or you can click the link provided to check out her TED Talk.

About Angela (via

A 2013 MacArthur Fellow, Angela has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs. Prior to her career in research, Angela founded a summer school for low-income children that was profiled as a Harvard Kennedy School case study and, in 2012, celebrated its twentieth anniversary.  Angela completed her undergraduate degree in Advanced Studies Neurobiology at Harvard, graduating magna cum laude. With the support of a Marshall Scholarship, she completed an MSc with Distinction in Neuroscience from Oxford University. She completed her PhD in Psychology as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.

Angela Duckworth: Grit Ted Talk

P 79 – “To begin, I can tell you with complete conviction that every human trait is influenced by both genes and experience.”

P. 80 – “Still, the biggest impediment to improving wasn’t anatomy, it was how he was coached. … again same story. Not just nature, not just nurture. Both.”

P 82 – In total, the human genome contains as many as twenty – five thousand different genes, and they tend to interact with one another and with environmental influences in complicated, still poorly understood, ways.

P 87 – After running a nonprofit, then pursuing neuroscience research, then management consulting, then teaching. I learned that being a promising beginner is fun, but being an actual expert is infinitely more gratifying. I also learned that years of hard work are often mistaken for innate talent, and that passion is as necessary as perseverance to world-class excellence.


P 87 – In other words, we change when we need to. Necessity is the mother of adaptation.

P 89 – A good place to start is to understand where you are today. If you’re not as gritty as you want to be, ask yourself why.

P 90 – As I tried to show in this chapter, paragons of grit quit goals, too. But the higher the level of goal in question, the more stubborn they are about seeing it through. Most important, paragons of grit don’t swap compasses. When it comes to the one, singularly important aim that guides almost everything else they do, the very gritty tend not to utter the statements above… I am bored… The effort isn’t worth it… this isn’t important to me… I can’t do this, so I should give up.

P 91 – Third is purpose. What ripens passion is the conviction that your work matters.

P 92 – At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.

P 92 –  The four psychological assets of interest, practice, purpose and hope are not you have it or you don’t commodities. You can learn to discover, develop, and deepen your interests. You can acquire the habit of discipline. You can cultivate a sense of purpose and meaning and you can teach yourself to hope.

P 105 – Finally interests thrive when there is a crew of encouraging supporters, including parents, teachers, coaches and peers. Why are other people so important? For one thing, they provide the ongoing stimulation and information that is essential to actually liking something more an more. Also — more obviously — positive feedback makes us feel happy, competent, and secure.

P 106 – Just because you love something doesn’t mean you’ll be great. — Not if you don’t work. Most people stink at the things they love. … So parents, parents to be and non parents of all ages. I have a message for you: Before hard work comes play. Before those who’ve you’ve yet to fix on a passion are ready to spend hours a day diligently honing skills, they must goof around, triggering and retriggering interest. Of course, developing an interest requires time and energy, and yes, some discipline and sacrifice. But at the earliest stage, novices aren’t obsessed with getting better. They’re not thinking years and years into the future. They don’t know what their top level, life orientating goal will be. More than anything else, they are having fun.

P 108 – For now, what I hope to convey is that experts and beginners have different motivational needs. At the start of an endeavor, we need encouragement and freedom to figure out what we enjoy. We need small wins. We need applause. Yes, we can handle a tincture of criticism and corrective feedback. Yes, we need to practice. But not too much and not too soon. Rush a beginner and you’ll bludgeon their budding interest. It’s very, very hard to get that back once you do.

P 117 – Considering all the studies showing that gritty people typically stick with their commitments longer than others, it seemed like the major advantage of grit was, simply, more time on task.

… Some people get twenty years of experience, while others get one year of experience… twenty times in a row.

P 131 – Across these diverse occupations, grittier adults report experiencing more flow, not less. In other words, flow and grit go hand in hand. … gritty people do more deliberate practice and experience more flow. … Currently, my view is that the primary motivation for doing effortful deliberate practice is to improve your skill.

P 136 – They rated it as both more enjoyable and more effortful. That’s right Grittier kids reported working harder than other kids when doing deliberate practice but, at the same time, said they enjoyed it more than other kids too.

P 137 – Other than getting yourself a terrific coach, mentor or teacher, how can you get the most out of deliberate practice and — because you’ve earned it — experience more flow?

P 139 – By this I mean, figure out when and where you’re most comfortable doing deliberate practice. Once you’ve made your selection, do deliberate practice then and there every day. Why? Because routines are a godsend when it comes to doing something hard. A mountain of research studies, including a few of my own, show that when you have a habit of practicing at the same time and in the same place every day, you hardly have to think about getting started. You just do.

P 141 – After hanging up with Terry, I began to think about the fact that infants and toddlers spend most of their time trying to do things they can’t, again and again and yet they don’t seem especially embarrassed or anxious. No pain, no gain is a rule that doesn’t seem to apply to the preschool set.

P 141 – According to Elena and Deborah, around the time children enter kindergarten, they begin to notice their mistakes inspire certain reactions in grown ups. … and what’s the lesson we’re teaching? Embarrassment. Fear. Shame. … between coaches and parents and friends and the media, they’ve learned that failing is bad, so they protect themselves and won’t stick their neck out and give their best effort.

P 165 – Gradually I became more and more aware that I was very good at going into new environments and helping people realize they’re capable of more than they know. I was discovering that this was my thing.

P 166 – Amy Wrzeniewski recommends thinking about how, in small but meaningful ways, you can change your current work to enhance its connection to your core values.

P 169 – Grit depends on a different kind of hope. It rests on the expectation that our own efforts can improve our future. I have a feeling tomorrow will be better is different from I resolve to make tomorrow better. The hope that gritty people have has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with getting up again.

P 171 – Looking back on that pivotal day, I can see that I’d been knocked down – or more accurately, tripped on my own two feet and fell flat on my face. Regardless, it was a moment when I could have stayed down. I could have said to myself: I’m an idiot. Nothing I do is good enough! And I could have dropped the class. Instead, my self-talk was defiantly hopeful. I won’t quit! I can figure this out!



One thought on “Grit: Angela Duckworth

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s