Grit – Angela Duckworth
- Key to success is to focus on something for a long period of time.
Long is defined as a minimum of ten years, and longer is preferable.
Angela uses examples of people quitting after five years as people
who don’t have grit.
- Angela’s results are from a questionnaire she calls the Grit index.
According to her the results correlate with success more than IQ or
test scores. West Point military school is a key example in her
- You are more likely to be gritty over things where you have high
passion and purpose. But paradoxically you are more likely to have
passion and purpose when you are a high achiever and for that you
need grit! (Cal Newport’s findings)
- The grit scale in schoolchildren tracked the frequency of change in
extracurricular activities and the achievement level of the child.
High correlation to future outcomes. Extracurricular activities were
defined as a key arena to develop grit; kids would fail, restart and
learn to overcome obstacles.
- One way to develop grit is to finish what you start. You can quit
but only at the conclusion of a block of time; e.g. the season for
soccer, the year for studies
- One theory is on a negative correlation between grit and talent.
Kids who are talented have less motivation to try hard since they
are used to breezing through. When it gets hard they quit. This
finding links to the field of chess; grandmasters almost always have
- The best put in huge amounts of work. 4-6h of work per day when not
working, or 9-12h per day when working. I can appreciate the
sentiment but I don’t know about the numbers. How can you not burn
out with 12h of work per day? Where do the rest of life’s
activities come in?
- Goal hierarchies: low level goals that make up medium level goals
that in turn make up high level goals. Grit refers to the switching
of the high level goal – not allowed. The swiching of medium and
low level goals is ok.
- Calling someone talented is a cheat card. You don’t have to compare
yourself with them if they’re talented: it’s obviously unfair!
- Part of grit is doing hard things and having the patience to go
slowly…going over neural networks for the fifth time, rewriting a
blog post draft for the tenth time. The impatience to move on is
strong and the gritty are able to tame the impulse.
- When you start in a field everything is novel and new. When you are
good the novelty and newness dissapears so you feel tempted to more
on. Counter this by going deep: find nuances, come at things from a
different angle, link together concepts, prove things, look for
different applications, try to simplify topics
- Deliberate practice is a magic pill to improving skills. Deliberate
practice feels hard and effortful. If it doesn’t feel hard and effortful, it’s not
- Four keys to deliberate practice: 100% focus, rapid feedback, small
specific goal (chunk) and time for reflection.
- If you have trouble finding purpose in your profession then look for
role models: can you emulate them?
- A quick hack to get more grit: join a team that works harder.
You will be carried along with them.
- A lot of grit is identity based. If you see yourself as a person
with grit then you probably have grit.