Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

4. How Gritty Are You?

  • This chapter starts with Angela’s Grit Scale. It contains ten questions with a five-point answer scale from Not At All Like Me to Very Much Like Me. Five of the questions are related to passion, and five are related to perseverance. This allows you to get an overall score and two sub scores. There is a chart that allows you to convert your scores into percentiles.
  • Next we deal with a hierarchy of goals. Angela uses a diagram with three levels. The top level is a single goal that represents your true passion or what makes you happy and what you want to do with your life. It can be thought of as your compass. This is the goal you want to hold on to for a very long time. Lower level goals should be revised or replaced as one moves forward. As the green berets say, “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.” This chapter also contains stories and advice from Seattle Seahawks football coach Pete Carroll, New Yorker cartoonist Frank Modell, and billionaire investor Warren Buffet. It ends with a 1926 study of 301 exceptional historical figures and concludes that you need to be smart to a point, but that hard work is much more important.
  • 5. Grit Grows

    • Like grit, every human trait is influenced by genes and experience. The amount for each seems to vary depending on the trait. Angela’s research shows that on the average, grit increases with age. There are two explanations. The first is that older folks (like myself) grew up under different cultural conditions. We were less pampered and expected to stick with something we started. The second is that as one lives and gains experience and setbacks, one becomes more gritty. Duckworth believes that both contribute to the fact that grit increases with age.
    • Mature paragons of grit have four have four psychological assets. They are 1. Interest – Passion begins with enjoying what you do. 2. Capacity to practice – You have to practice daily for a long time and focus on your weaknesses and resist complacency. 3. Purpose – You need to believe that what you do matters beyond your own situation. 4. Hope – It does not define the last stage of grit but it part of every stage. The other takeaway is that grit is not fixed. It is fluid and can be grown, which is the focus of the next part of this book.

    Part II – Growing Grit From the Inside Out – 6. Interest

    • The big idea is to figure out what you like doing the most and then try to do it full-time. The most successful people usually do just that. People who like what they do will do it better. Students majoring in fields they like do better and are less likely to drop out. Unfortunately, most people (2/3 according to Gallop 2014) are not engaged in their work. Most people who become engaged are not likely to find their big interest first, and when they do first see it, don’t initially recognize it. After you discover your passion, you then have to develop and deepen it.
    • Although a few find their passion early, it’s rare that anyone does prior to middle school. This is when students should start exploring. The process of discovery is messy and inefficient and luck doesn’t hurt. Trial and error is a key feature and it’s ok to quit a path that isn’t working out. Experiment and don’t force it. Interest development takes time and multiple encounters. Supporters in the guise of parents, teachers, coaches, and peers are vital. Feedback is also necessary. The early part of exploration should be playful. It’s also vital that parents and teachers not force the issue. We are born with a drive to explore novelty.
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