Grit by Angela Duckworth [Book Summary]


If you don’t succeed at first, get up and keep trying again and again. However, that’s how the saying goes. We are always being told that we have to endure and keep going, even if initially it looks hard. In spite of all this stressing on working hard and keeping at it; still, we don’t actually believe that it will take us to the top. We know in our heart of hearts that it’s talent and not perseverance, that takes people to the top.

However, this manner of thinking is wrong. The talent is overrated. What you actually require is grit and determination.

Think this claim looks a little naive? These following chapters will provide arguments to support it. After you have read the chapter,  you won’t have any doubt how really essential hard work is.


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1 – Even though we like saying that hard work is the way to success, we have a natural-talent prejudice.


Which skill do you consider really essential in a mate: intelligence or good looks? What about in a worker– a natural talent or a good work ethic? In both cases, we have a habit of deceiving ourselves by replying against our natural instincts.

A lot of country-wide surveys in the United States have questioned that, Which quality is really essential for success: talent or hard work? Nearly 66% of the people that answered the question choose hard work, grit, and determination. Hard work was the skill they said to search for when looking for a potential employee.

And this belief doesn’t only apply to the business world.

Chia-Jung Tsay a psychologist asked this question in 2011 to musical experts, and a lot of them mentioned that practice and hard work are the way to success.

However, if we’re being truthful with ourselves, what we really believe is that talent supersedes hard work.

In that exact 2011 study, the musical experts were being made to listen to two recordings and they were told that one was a naturally talented musician, and the other one was years of hard work.



While the experts had mentioned hard work, they irresistibly picked the naturally talented musician as being higher. However, here’s the catch: the experts actually listened to the same piano pieces by the same musician!

This type of self-deception occurs in the business world as well.

Furthermore, Tsay’s study observed the experiences of entrepreneurs and discovered that the hard-working entrepreneurs needed a lot of years of more experience and a minimum of $40,000 more in start-up capital so that they can be able to compete against the naturally talented.

More often than not, if an applicant is shown as possessing a natural talent for associating with people, they’ll be seen as more valuable than someone who has worked hard to form a network of colleagues.


2 – The effort is two times as important as talent, something people with an initial lack of talent regularly realize.


When Bill Clinton got to the political ladder and to the US presidency, he made it seem easy. Conversely, Hillary Clinton has never looked easy. However, this could really eventually work in her favor.

The effort not just leads to skill; but also leads to outcomes, which makes effort two times as essential as talent!

You can consider it as an equation: To find your level of skill, you take your talent in a particular field and multiply it by the amount of effort you give. Hence, Talent × Effort = Skill.

However, when it comes to getting outcomes, you need to put that skill back into the equation. Again, the outcomes are going to be determined by the amount of effort you dedicate. Hence, this time, Skill × Effort = Achievement.

This can also be looked at in terms of athletics. Even though you’re naturally talented, you still need to dedicate to practicing and enhance your skills. For example, if you wish to win Olympic gold, it’s a nearly absolutely pure effort that’s going to take you there.



The extraordinary power of effort is regularly seen by people who fight to conquer a lack of talent.

A perfect illustration of this is John Irving who is the award-winning writer. Aside from being a natural talent, things were difficult for Irving in school, he was held back a year, getting a C- in English and getting below-average language scores on his SATs.

However, there was a cause for this. Apparently, Irving was dyslexic and required a lot of time than others to catch up on his reading and writing skills.

But Irving didn’t admit defeat. Rather, he put in double the amount of effort into his studies as everyone else, a routine he continued all through his life.

Irving ends up writing and rewriting like ten drafts of his novels; however, he was aware that his grit and hard work will eventually be worth it. The results are obvious: in 1978, his novel The World According to Garp won the National Book Award.


3 – By making and abiding by low-level goals, you can attain long-term goals and keep your dreams alive.


Conventional wisdom mentions that we should do the things we love. However, essentially, you need to remain dedicated to doing what you love. Giving yourself little daily activities is a good method to keep up your levels of effort.

Low-level goals such as that can be a way to achieving your goals.

A lot of people will create high-level goals, such as becoming a doctor, lawyer, or professional athlete. Having such a life goal is inspirational; however, it can also make you forget to create all the small goals you have to complete in order to make it possible.

For instance, for you to become a doctor there are a lot of low-level goals that you need to first set, such as studying and passing your pre-med exams. Once this happens, there are other small goals, such as getting to classes early and ensuring that you get good marks.

If you don’t put these small goals into your daily life, the big goal will stay unattainable.

But, having a bigger dream and vision in place is essential for adding meaning and inspiration in your daily life.

Nevertheless, abiding by a disciplined regime is very easy when you have a clear depiction of what you’re trying to achieve. Also, it helps when these passions are direct.



Use Tom Seaver as an example. All he ever wished for was pitch baseball.

When he retired at the age of 42, Seaver had pitched 3,640 strikeouts in a 20-year profession as a major league baseball player.

During this career, Seaver planed all the things in his life to ensure that he kept his goal of pitching alive and flourishing. This involved remaining in the shade if he was traveling through a sunny climate because sunburn on his pitching arm could actually affect this goal.

This is what being devoted to your goal seems like. Seaver’s success was the effect of a simple goal.


4 – It is essential to pick the work that you love; however, don’t allow unrealistic expectations to hinder you.


Do you find it difficult getting motivated in your workday? If that is the case, then you are not alone. A 2014 Gallup poll showed that two-thirds of US workers don’t feel inspired by their job, with a lot of people seeing their job as boring. As a matter of fact, Just 13%  of workers mentioned that they feel involved with their work.

These statistics stress an easy fact. Regardless of how much grit you possess, if you wish to remain inspired, it’s essential to do something you love.

Mark Allen Morris a psychologist interviewed hundreds of US workers in 2013 and the findings verified that people are very happy when their work overlaps with their personal interests.

This signifies that creative-minded people are probably never to completely engage with an administrative desk job. Same as how someone who likes helping and working with others will find it hard to get contentment in a work that confines them or stuck working on their own.  

Having this in mind, it’s also essential to have practical expectations about the jobs that are within your reach.



For 45 years, Barry Schwartz a psychologist at Pennsylvania’s Swarthmore College has been counseling students, and he observed that this present generation is particularly susceptible to having impractical and starry-eyed expectations for what is to come.

Schwartz observed that this unrealistic outlook has crept into both their professional and romantic lives. When we talk of jobs and love, he’s discovered that present young adults are under the idea that there’s an exceptional and perfect fit out there waiting for them, and anything else is totally a waste of time.  

This present generation needs to understand that, in reality, there are a lot of jobs and partners out there that could be the foundation for a successful relationship or career.

Once you discover that career or partner, remember the significance of abiding with it so that you can successfully attain your personal and professional goals.


5 – Be clever on how you practice and evade being stuck on autopilot.


If you’ve used a lot of time studying for exams, it’s possible that you know how simple it is to use a whole day copying down worthless information and then at the end of the day, you get an unsatisfactory score.

As a matter of fact, practicing hard can be a waste of time if you don’t practice smartly.

The people who practice all the time have more success at learning a new skill than people who do not put in any effort. With that being said, cognitive psychologist Anders Ericsson has found that the way to this success is through smart practice.

Think of athletics. Successful runners don’t practice with unclear goals in mind; they are accurate and keep a close eye on each aspect of their runs, as well as keeping track of how their body is reacting and the distance they’re running.

Also, their goals are clear; they try to run 100 meters further than the previous time, to attain a certain speed by the end of the month or to calm the tension in their shoulders during practice.

The advantages of cautious practice are three: it’ll get you off autopilot, enable you to avoid repetition and get good outcomes.

Also, doctors gain from very specified training. Having this understanding, Ericsson created a program to assist doctors to solve certain critical conditions; for instance, cardiac arrests.



The program provides doctors with feedback after they recommend some kind of treatment options, giving clues if they end up in the wrong direction.

In a training session with the program, one physician stayed on autopilot. He wasn’t learning from the feedback and he did the same mistake over and over. Yet, carefully practicing and putting in the effort, he was basically repeating himself without any progress.

It was until they took the doctor aside and told him to use a minute to think and cleverly meditate on what he was doing – he then did the right thing and started noticing good outcomes

It can be as easy to just put down your head, work and end up on autopilot with the notion that you’ll eventually gain the rewards of your practice time. However, that won’t occur till you take a moment and reflect on exactly what it is you have to improve and begin practicing smart.


6 – Discovering the purpose of your work is a great motivator; however, discovering your real calling can actually take time.


There’s no getting around the fact that we need to do things we don’t like occasionally. And probabilities are we’ve all procrastinated and delayed doing a work that looked like a hassle.

The best method to prevent procrastination is to get motivated by discovering the purpose of your work.

If you are doing something that interests you, motivation can be easy to discover. However, understanding how your work adds to the well-being of others can be also motivating.

A study from 2015 asserts that the people who consider their work as a calling to assist other people are regularly the most satisfied. 

And you don’t essentially need to be assisting people. In a different study that surveyed zookeepers, it was discovered that a lot of people are happy with their moderately low salary in spite of their good educations.

These zookeepers consider their work as a calling, and, due to that, their job offers them a greater sense of purpose in life and the feeling that they are adding to making the world a better place. Also, this signifies that they are more willing to work overtime and remain on duty to care for sick animals.  



But, if you haven’t discovered your true calling yet, don’t bother. It can actually take time and you might likely discover it while doing something else.  

Professor Michael Baime lectured internal medicine at Pennsylvania University after striving through medical school and an internship. He was aware that medicine wasn’t his real calling; however, he did love being in the position to assist people.

Meanwhile, he was growing his true passion which is meditation and mindfulness, a practice he’d love since he stared at the sky as a young boy and sensed a deep connection with the world.

Finally, Baime was the director of internal medicine at a Philadelphia hospital and, in 1992, he created a meditation class for patients that are terminally ill.

By abiding with his medical practice he was able to create a spot for his real calling. Presently, his meditation program is his key profession.


7 – Teachers, as well as parents, can assist in guaranteeing future success by rewarding hard work over natural talent.


Unluckily, children are exposed to all kinds of bad advice, particularly when they’re being told that they’ll never be clever enough and hard work is a waste of time.

This can hinder people from achieving their full potential; therefore in order to prevent this from occurring it’s essential to identify and inspire hard work rather than only rewarding talent.

Instead of destroying someone’s hopes, tell children that skill can be gained through hard work and that grit and determination leads to rewards.

Unluckily, schools usually reward children for talent instead of hard work, which is something American teachers like Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin plan to change.

In 1994, they established a program known as Knowledge is Power, with the instruction that children receive a reward for effort and learning instead of natural talent. Hence, instead of telling a child, “You’re a natural and I love that,” teachers would rather say, “You’re a learner and I love that!”

The outcomes were good. The grades of children that were registered in the program increased a lot and it was above the national average.  

The program demonstrates how essential it is for adults and teachers to serve as role models. Children watch and learn from adults and they can learn that change and development are achievable.



Daeun Park a Psychologist observed what first- and second-grade children were learning from their teachers.

It resulted that teachers who highlighted ranking students according to their grades were laying a bad example for the kids. These children would eventually think that their level of intelligence was fixed, and eventually liked safe activities that didn’t challenge them.

This is also the case for some parents. Unfortunately, it’s really normal for a parent to think that bad grades signify a lack of intelligence instead of a lack of effort. This can impart a conviction in the child that he’s senseless and he should give up.

If the parents and teachers basically say to the children that they have to work harder, they will get motivated and attain better grades.


8 – Grit is a cherished feature in some cultures as well as successful businesses.


It’s not rare to see an athlete display grit and determination to conquer a bad beginning and proceed to win the match. However, what is less common is seeing this belief get promoted on a national term.

Except you’re in Finland, where these cultural values are really promoted.

Maybe it is because of the long, cold winters and history of needing to protect themselves against their sometimes-aggressive Russian neighbors. Finland is a perfect supporter of grit.

The Finnish have their term for grit, which is sisu, which means a skill of perseverance that has turned out to be essential to Finnish culture.

Emilia Lahti a Finnish psychologist takes sisu really serious and has researched its important to the Finns. She discovered after surveying a thousand Finnish people that 83% assumed that sisu is a feature that is learned and not a quality that one is born with.

As one can learn grit, it can also be infused as a feature in a company.

A lot of people praise Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, for instilling a can-do spirit that enabled them to get a profit of $5 billion profit during the financial crisis of 2008, that was the time when a lot of other banks crumpled



Dimon learned about grit beforehand. When Dimon’s high school calculus teacher had a heart attack, the school struggled to find an appropriate replacement for him. This made half of the class drop out of the class. But, Dimon was part of the remaining half that kept going and taught themselves calculus.

That is the spirit of grit that Dimon has instilled in his workers in town-hall meetings across the country. He motivates them to get up and succeed even in the time of difficulties by offering them inspiration, a sense of purpose and well-defined goals that can’t help but direct them to success.

Grit by Angela Duckworth Book Review

It is accurate that you do the things you love; however, as a matter of fact, you will constantly face difficulties. Hard work can cause procrastination and uncertainty, and this is where grit comes in. You can actually encourage yourself to continue working toward achieving your goals and persevere through the difficult times with both determination and resolve


Take up a challenge and practice your grit.

For instance, you can think of writing a short story. Outline the actual length you want to get to and have a deadline. Plan what you need to do every day so you can remain on track. Now start nurturing your grit power!


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