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Grit: The Journey Begins

The prelude to Dr. Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit, sets up a juxtaposition between it (grit) and talent. We are so quick, she says, to overemphasize someone’s talent as the key to their success. She shows us, however, that talent doesn’t tell the whole story. Duckworth speaks of her honor of winning a MacArthur Fellowship, often called “the genius grant”, despite not being the smartest person she knows. She attests her success to grit, saying,

“In the long run, grit may matter more than talent.”

Dr. Duckworth’s dogged determination is similar to other academics who make one topic the center of their intellectual lives for years. She first began inquiring about grit sometime around 2004. Since then, she has become the world’s foremost expert on the subject. She provides encouragement to all of us:

“I know that grit is mutable, not fixed, and I have insights from research about how to grow it.”

So do not despair if you have found yourself falling short of your own gritty expectations at one point or another in life.Our discussion on grit will help with that. Over the coming weeks, we’ll dive into Dr. Duckworth’s book to see what lessons we can glean. We’ll discuss how we can apply them in our lives. We’ll also discuss ways in which we can assist others become grittier to help them achieve their goals. These discussions will take place here on Mэntal Musings, as well as more frequently at #ExpatGrit on Twitter.

If you’d rather not tweet, you are welcome to email your own thoughts to I will be happy to share them in a future issue of MM. In this way, we’ll all learn together. If you wish to maximize your learning, pick up a copy of the book. Otherwise, reading MM will provide you with the bare bones minimum to follow along.


Questions Prior to Reading…

  1. How would you define grit in your own words?

  2. If you speak a language other than English, how would you convey grit in it? What added insight, if any, does this provide you about grit’s meaning?

  3. When in your life have you given a gritty performance?

  4. When do you feel you have needed more grit in your life?


Photo by Andrew Hawkes from Pexels

Chapter 1

Duckworth begins her study of grit by looking at Beast Barracks, the seven-week training program for new cadets at West Point. She wanted to discover what was the secret to certain cadets’ success, and what others lacked that caused them to drop out. As part of her study, Dr. D designed the Grit Scale. She then had the new cadets complete the scale on Day 2 of Beast Barracks. The results, she found, “turned out to be an astoundingly reliable predictor of who made it through (Beast) and who did not.”

You can access the Grit Scale online to find your own personal grit score. I encourage you to do so. Please try to answer the questions as honestly as possible. (Please take your results with a grain of salt. As this is a subjective survey, a low score may speak more about your own high expectations of yourself than it does about how gritty you truly are.) Regardless of the results, they are only the starting point for your future growth over the coming weeks.

Questions for Chapter 1

  1. After taking the Grit Scale, what was your initial reaction?

  2. How has taking the Scale informed you about what grit is?

  3. In Chapter 1, we learn that grit = passion + perseverance. What role has passion played in your grittiest moments?

I look forward to hearing from you about Grit. Happy learning, everyone!


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