Do you have Grit?


Grit is in fashion.

Angela Lee’s TED talk has racked up 12,600,192 views at the time of this writing and she expanded on her ideas in Grit, her best-selling book.

Her basic premise is that grit is what we need to have in order to achieve something outstanding.

So, what is grit and how can we develop it?

The internet’s definition of grit is courage and resolve; strength of character.

It’s a character trait, and so it’s developed from a combination of nature and nurture.

Some of it has to come from our genes – there’s natural talent and capability that is baked into us from the start for different things.

Then there’s the image we have of grit – perhaps a soldier moving forward despite the conditions, a runner pushing through the wall to keep moving.

Another way of looking at it is as resilience or persistence.

This is the willingness to not let small setbacks knock you back but to keep going rather than giving up.

This is a powerful image but is also linked with a macho culture of winning – of beating everyone else. Success is defined as much by who you defeat as what you achieve.

But that’s not all there is to achievement. What’s is the point at winning at something you don’t really like in the first place?

Angela suggests that grit is a blend of passion and perseverance or resilience. Get this right and you’re going to succeed.

If you care about what you do, and you are willing to work on it day after day, then you’re going to get better and perhaps, one day, be outstanding.

This probably doesn’t surprise anyone.

The last piece of the puzzle may be something else that we have no control over.

Many world-class performers are fortunate to have good role models – often their parents.

They showed them how to work hard, to try their best, do their work before playing and work towards long term goals.

Often, it seems that parent’s interests were picked up by children.

Angela quotes educational psychologist Edward Bloom as saying that parents would send their children to some activities and take them to others.

Guess which ones the kids became better at?

So, in summary, nurture helps. Learning persistence and applying it to something you are passionate about is important.

But, as Bertrand Russell said, it is also important to choose your parents wisely.

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