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Grit - Book summary

Grit is the combination of passion and perseverance. Through years of research, Angela Duckworth found grit to be a stronger predictor of high-achievement than intelligence, talent and other personality traits. In this free Grit summary, we’ll outline what’s grit and how you can cultivate grit in both yourself and others to accomplish more in life.

Understanding Grit


Grit is the combination of passion (a deep, enduring knowledge of what you want) and perseverance (hard work and resilience). It’s about moving in a direction with consistency and endurance, like having a clear inner compass that guides all your decisions and actions.

Grit summary_passion-perseverance

Being gritty is about:

  • Having a clear hierarchy of goals, sticking to your high-level goals consistently, and aligning your goals at all levels. We also explain the 4 steps you can use to prioritize and align your goals.
  • Research background on how grit relates to genes, culture and experience. Essentially, grit can be developed, with life experiences probably player a major role.

Do learn more about these aspects in our complete 13-page summary.


Various research studies have proven that talent and intelligence alone don’t predict success. In fact, talent can hinder performance, and aptitude tests tend to be poor measures of true potential. On the other hand, effort (which is sustained by grit) is doubly important.  You must put in effort to hone your natural talents into tangible skills through practice and improvement. You must also put in effort to apply those skills to solve real-world problems to attain achievement.

Grit summary_importance of effortGrit has been found to reliably predict whether military recruits graduate from rigorous elite training programs, whether salespeople stay in their jobs, whether high-school students graduate on schedule and whether adults earn their graduate degrees. Over the years, Duckworth has studied grit through experiments, empirical research and interviews with “grit paragons” (people who exemplify grit).

In our full Grit summary, you can get more examples and associated research to explain these concepts, as well as why we tend to have a bias toward natural talent even though we understand the value of hard work

Developing Grit

Research suggests there are 4 “psychological assets” behind grit. Each of these components can be developed by yourself (from inside-out) or with external help (from outside-in).

  • Interest: loving what you do;
  • Practice: focusing on improvement no matter what;
  • Purpose: believing strongly that your work matters to yourself and to others. This usually happens only after years of cultivating your interest and honing your abilities from practice; and
  • Hope: believing that you can work things out and overcome your challenges. Hope works hand-in-hand with all 3 components above to determine how you respond to failures—if you get up and keep going, or stay down and be defeated.

We’ll now briefly outline what nurturing grit entails.


Contrary to popular belief, our interests, passions and calling are not inborn; they’re cultivated over time. Grit paragons don’t suddenly discover their passion in a magical, fireworks-filled moment, nor do they fall crazily in love with the perfect job. Instead, they spend years exploring different interests before focusing on one area. As they practice and hone their skills, they also develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of their craft until it becomes a burning passion and a calling.

Grit summary_developing grit_inside-out

Discovering your Interests

In the initial stages, most people learn and practice something for fun, not to develop a life-long career. Deep interest emerges with time, and comes from a blend of age, real-life triggers, a period of interest development and support from others. Do check out our full 13-page summary to dive into each of these ingredients and find out how you can start discovering your interests.

Deepening Through Practice

Hard work alone isn’t enough. Cognitive psychologist Anders Ericsson found that experts became outstanding not just from lots of practice, but how they practice, i.e. they use deliberate practice.   In the full Grit summary bundle, we (i) break down the steps/components of deliberate practice, (ii) examine the difference/relationship between deliberate practice and flow (a high-performance state coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) and (iii) explain how you can increase your rate of learning significantly.

Developing a Sense of Purpose

Purpose is “the intention to contribute to the well-being of others.” Both gritty and non-gritty people seek short-term pleasures, but gritty people are drastically more likely to also seek to contribute to others. They usually spend years developing their skills and interest, before they discover their purpose later in life.  Check out the full summary bundle for more insights on: (i) the difference  between a job, career and calling, (ii) the 2 key revelations needed for a sense of purpose and (iii) 3 ways to start cultivating a sense of purpose.

Nurturing Hope

Hope is “the expectation that our own efforts can improve our future”. It helps us to persevere; it gives us the strength to get up each time we fall and to keep going. In  our full summary, we’ll elaborate more on (i) the relationship between grit and optimism + the growth mindset, and (ii) several ways to cultivate hope.


You can also use external help to develop grit in yourself or to nurture grit in others.

Grit summary_developing grit_outside-in

Parenting For Grit

Duckworth refers to parenting broadly as the act of nurturing the next generation. Every grit paragon she interviewed had at least 1 person who, at the right time and in the right way, motivated him/her to push through to the next level. In our full 13-page summary, you’ll get more tips on how to use role-modelling and wise-parenting to positively impact children and students and make a real difference in their lives.

Providing the Training Ground for Grit

Grit and follow-through have been found to be directly correlated, and follow-through has also been found to be the best predictor of whether young people attain high achievement later in life. For more tips on how to nurture grit in young children, do check out the full summary.

Developing a Culture of Grit

Culture refers to a group’s shared norms and values. Our cultures shape our self-identity, worldview and the way we think and act.  Find out how you can fast-track your grit development by joining a gritty culture, and what it takes to build a gritty culture.

Getting the Most from Grit

Grit is vital to the psychology of success and can be developed. However, grit is not the only virtue that’s important. Our character is multi-dimensional: it’s made up of at least 3 clusters of virtues, all of which affect different outcomes. Grit is just one key virtue.

  • Intrapersonal virtues (e.g. self-control) affect how you manage yourself, and grit is part of this category.
  • Interpersonal virtues (e.g. social intelligence, emotional control) affect how you interact with others.
  • Intellectual virtues (e.g. curiosity) affect how you engage with ideas.

If you’d like to dive into these insights in greater detail, do check out our complete Grit summary bundle. This includes an infographic, 13-page text summary, and a 27-minute audio summary.

Grit summary - book summary bundle

The book also includes many other details, including:

  • Empirical research, highlights of interviews with grit paragons, and examples of how people developed passion, purpose and perseverance in various fields; and
  • Questions for the Grit Score and related assessment tools.

You can purchase the book here or check out more resources/details at

[You can learn more about how to find your flow with our Finding Flow summary or check out Mindset summary to learn more about the Psychology of Success]

About the Author of Grit

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance is written by Angela Duckworth–an American academic, psychologist and author. She’s the Founder and CEO of Character Lab, a not-for-profit organization that focuses on character development, and Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Previously, Duckworth was a math and science teacher and a McKinsey management consultant. She completed her undergraduate degree in Advanced Studies Neurobiology at Harvard, her MSc with Distinction in Neuroscience from Oxford University, and her PhD in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Grit Quotes

“What we eventually accomplish may depend more on our passion and perseverance than on our innate talent.”

“Time and energy are limited. Any successful person has to decide what to do in part by deciding what not to do.”

“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”

“Necessity is the mother of adaptation.”

“Passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.”

“For the beginner, novelty is anything that hasn’t been encountered before. For the expert, novelty is nuance.”

“It isn’t suffering that leads to hopelessness. It’s suffering you think you can’t control.”

Click here to download the Grit summary & infographic

One Comment

  • Jonas AC Nkhoma says:

    Thanks, for the knowledge of Grit, thanks for the helful exposure of Grit. It’s vitally essencial to learn that Grit is the combination of passion and perseverance.
    And that Interest leads to practice which leads to clear purpose and this provides great hope that our work will engender a prolific future for us as well as our community. Talent plus effort equals skill and skill plus effort equals achievement

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