Do you have the grit to succeed in your objectives and goals?

Angela Duckworth-Grit

I aim to bring attention to interesting books that I recommend and find interesting. Even if many of you know I am a technologist at heart, many of my book recommendations have to do with life, career, and how to have a life that you won't regret. I get to select the areas I want to be good at and offer my services through my boutique management company, TELLUS International.

Each of us sets goals and objectives in our personal lives and careers. This week I wanted to bring to your attention a book that is still a New York Times bestseller where the author Angela Duckworth, shows that for anyone striving to succeed, the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence, which she calls "grit." The book is "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance". Dr. Angela Duckworth is a Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

As a non-native English speaker, "grit" does not mean anything to me, so I had to look for the definitions. Grit is "a personality trait characterized by passion and perseverance towards a long-term goal despite obstacles and distractions." Passion gives us a sense of purpose, and perseverance is when we stick to our mission, even when the going gets tough. The author also states the following characteristics of grit:

  • Redefining Achievement: Duckworth challenges the conventional wisdom that innate talent and intelligence are the primary determinants of success. Instead, she places a greater emphasis on effort and persistence—what she calls “grit.”
  • Grit Can Be Learned: Duckworth’s research suggests that grit isn’t just something you’re born with; it can be developed regardless of IQ or circumstances. This has implications for education and personal development strategies.
  • The Hard Thing Rule: She introduces the “Hard Thing Rule,” which encourages sticking with a difficult task before allowing oneself to quit. This rule is designed to build perseverance and resilience.
  • Impact on Parenting and Education: Duckworth’s insights have influenced approaches to parenting and education, advocating for a balance between support and challenge to foster grit in children.
  • Grit Scale: She developed the Grit Scale, a questionnaire that measures an individual’s perseverance and passion for long-term goals. This tool has been used to predict success in various settings, from education to the military.
  • Grit and Flow: Gritty people engage in more deliberate practice and experience more flow, a state of complete immersion in an activity. This contributes to their ability to maintain motivation over long periods.

I wanted to bring this book for my weekly review because it explains several things from my life, even if I did not know what they were. I have always been extremely goal-driven in anything I do, and one of the reasons why I am an entrepreneur in the United States is that I set the aim to immigrate to the US and did not let anything stop me.

Once you set your aim, most of your actions are in your conscientiousness, driving your actions and decisions even if you don't think about them. Another example was when I set out to get my Ph.D. It was a hard road to take in parallel to being the CEO of a company, but I set my goal and did not want to disappoint myself. I guess that is a sign of "grit." There were many obstacles along the way, so it was not easy. And, yes, there were many doubters along the way.

The author states that many people start things full of excitement, only to give up too soon when encountering the real first obstacle. We quit what we start way too early and way too often. What builds skills and leads to achievement is waking up day after day and staying at it. This reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers" and his claim that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a complex skill.

The author says that most people quit because they

  • Get bored
  • Don't think it's worthy
  • Can't see themselves ever making it.

Duckworth lists four stages in the development of grit, and each of the stages is built upon each other and are as follows:

  • Interest is the first stage—without an interest in a skill or subject, a person won’t start down the path to mastery.
  • Practice is the next stage—practice takes over once interest has evolved from playful exploration into something more deliberate.
  • Purpose comes next after a person has achieved a certain level of mastery and can begin to look outward to figure out how their skill can benefit others.
  • Hope is not a final, separate stage, but rather, it accompanies the other three all the way through because it fuels the other stages with a feeling of optimism and empowerment.

Grit also means that one keeps the same end goal, which Duckworth calls a "life philosophy," for a prolonged period of time. Gritty people have lower-level and mid-level goals that support their life philosophy. On the other hand, people lacking grit tend to have goals that don't align. Some people have big final goals without supporting mid- and lower-level goals. The author calls this "positive fantasizing."

The author proposes an Achievement Equation, and it is as follows:

Angela Duckworth’s two equations from her research on grit and achievement are:

  1. Talent multiplied by Effort equals Skill:


2. Skill multiplied by Effort equals Achievement:


These equations encapsulate the idea that while talent is a starting point, it is the effort that transforms talent into skill, and then skill into tangible achievements. Duckworth emphasizes that effort is crucial and effectively counts twice in the journey to success.

Duckworth’s work has sparked a conversation about the importance of grit in achieving success and has provided practical advice for individuals looking to increase their own grittiness. Her contributions extend beyond individual achievement, influencing how we nurture grit in others, particularly in educational and organizational contexts.

The book provides a profound lesson for people who have self-doubts or feel that they don't have the talent to achieve something they have a passion for. It provides a great counterargument that you can achieve what you want with effort. I have set my personal objectives and defined my passions. Many of you already know some of them, such as learning as much as possible about AI and how it will impact organizations, not just technically but also from a business perspective.

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Dr. Petri I. Salonen

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