Do you have the 4 characteristics of grit?

02 August 2017 - Mindful Practices

What is grit? Are you born with it or can it be taught? Are intelligence and talent more important when it comes to achievement?

Angela Duckworth, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, is often associated with the study and popularisation of grit. Her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance and related TED talk addresses some of the biggest misconceptions about achievement.

So what did she learn about grit?

Grit isn’t easy to define, but can be seen as the perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Duckworth found that there are 4 components to grit: interest, practice, purpose and hope, which generally develop in that order.

1. Interest

Interest, according to Duckworth, is where passion stems. You're unlikely to pursue something for a long time if you aren't genuinely interested and find it meaningful.

2. Practice

Duckworth’s TED talk illuminated what grit means:

A) Everyday stamina and consistency

Talent and intelligence aren’t big contributors to achievement, nor are they preconditions for grit. According to Duckworth’s research, “there is no domain of expertise that has been studied where world class performers have put in fewer than 10 years of consistent, deliberate practice to get where they are. Many extremely bright people don’t have the capacity to stay on task towards one goal, and keep switching from one to another.” When asked which quality vaulted these individuals to the top, “a tenacious, dogged perseverance unlike anyone else” was more cited than talent.

B) Endurance in the face of adversity

In a study about qualities that make geniuses, one quality found was “the tendency not to abandon tasks from mere changeability”. In Duckworth’s words, “It’s not just being passionate but sustaining the passion for a long time [and] having perseverance in the face of adversity, setbacks, failures.”

C) Uncomfortable hard work

In her research at the National Spelling Bee, Duckworth found that grit is a better indicator of success than self-discipline. What differentiated the kids who were gritty and those who just had self-discipline was that former didn’t just put in hours into what they already knew. They isolated their weaknesses and worked consistently on that. In Duckworth’s words, “[grit] is working hard in a very uncomfortable place and getting up to do it all over again and again”.

3. Purpose

Purpose means feeling like your work matters to you and the world. Duckworth’s research found that people motivated by altruism measured higher in grit than those motivated by personal pleasure.

4. Hope

According to Duckworth, hope defines every stage of grit and is “a rising-to-the occasion kind of perseverance”.

But the most important finding of Duckworth’s research is that we aren’t born with grit. Grit is taught and cultivated. It’s up to us to develop it day by day.

How do we do that? Here are 7 everyday tips to nurture grit.

- The Mindful Company Team