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Why is Grit important to Growth Mindset: Develop Resilience

Written by Terencio White

Why is grit important to growth mindset? At its core, grit is not just about weathering the storm, but doing so with an unconquerable spirit. Imagine you've got nothing left in the tank, be it physically or mentally.

Now, picture yourself not only continuing, but doing so with a level of intensity and focus, as if you've just tapped into an endless reserve. It's as though you asked the universe for a thousand units of 'the good stuff,' and it delivered. But here's the kicker: this isn't just about raw perseverance.

This is about the passion you pour into your pursuits, the emotional commitment that elevates your resilience, transforming it into grit. Stick around, and we'll delve into how this intricate blend of passion and perseverance can significantly elevate yourself, enriching both your personal and professional life.

"Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality."Angela Duckworth

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Psychology Behind Grit

Ever wonder why some individuals can face adversity head-on and come out stronger, while others crumble? The answer isn’t just about being strong-willed or highly motivated. It’s about grit—a mix of passion and perseverance that drives long-term success.


What is Grit? From Industry leaders, Duckworth & Dweck

We hear about grit in conversations ranging from sports commentary to workplace evaluations. But what is it, really? Grit potently combines passion and perseverance. According to Angela Duckworth, the psychologist who literally wrote the book on grit, it’s not just about putting in the time and effort. It’s about working hard for a long time, on something you're deeply passionate about.

In academic circles, Carol Dweck—another heavy-hitter in psychology—has explored the idea of a "growth mindset." This is the belief that skills and intelligence can be developed through dedication and challenging work. Now mesh that with grit. You're not just working hard or being resilient. You're developing, you're growing, and that’s the gold standard.

Studies to Know

If you're a fan of empirical evidence, then dive into Angela Duckworth’s research. Her studies break down the qualities that make up gritty individuals. Then, there’s Carol Dweck, who's written extensively about the new psychology of success, focusing on the growth mindset.

Key Readings:

Takeaway: Get familiar with the science to learn and develop these new skills. Understanding grit will make you better equipped to incorporate these principles into your life.

Do You Have a Fixed Mindset? What You Need to Know

You might be here because you've caught yourself thinking, "I'm just not good at this," or "I'll never get it right." That's a fixed mindset talking. And guess what? We've all been there, but staying there is a choice.

A fixed mindset keeps you in your comfort zone, avoiding challenges like the plague. Sounds cozy, but the magic? That happens outside your comfort zone. If you want to develop grit, it's time to shake things up.

Actionable Steps to pivot from a fixed mindset:

  1. Identify Your Triggers: Recognize the moments when your fixed mindset kicks in. Is it when you're trying something new, or facing an arduous task? Pinpoint these moments.
  2. Challenge Your Thoughts: Question your automatic thoughts. Instead of thinking, "I can't do this," reframe it to, "What can I learn from this?"
  3. Embrace the Process: Instead of focusing solely on the end result, take joy in the learning process. Give yourself credit for small wins along the way.
  4. Seek Feedback: Don't shy away from constructive criticism; seek it out. Treat feedback as a tool for growth, not as a personal attack.
  5. Be Patient and Consistent: Switching from a fixed to a growth mindset won't happen overnight. It takes time and consistent effort. So stick with it.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts."Winston Churchill

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How to Develop Grit: The Pathway to Mastery

Grit is important. But how do you go from understanding the concept to actually living it? Good news: developing grit is not like learning rocket science. It's more like cultivating a garden. It takes daily effort, and yes, you'll deal with some weeds along the way.

Stepping Stones: Short-Term Goals Leading to Long-Term Success

First thing’s first: set some long-term goals. Notice the plural there? Living isn't one-dimensional, and your goals shouldn't be. Perhaps you're eyeing that promotion, or maybe you're working on launching a new business. Or hey, perhaps you're aiming to finally beat your personal record in a marathon. Regardless, you need to see where you’re going before you start the journey.

But here's where many people falter. They set these huge long-term goals, then get intimidated. The key benefit is breaking them down into smaller, achievable milestones.

Step-By-Step Guide:

  1. Identify your long-term goals: Write them down; make them real.
  2. Break them down: Divide each long-term goal into smaller tasks.
  3. Timeline it: Create a realistic timeline for each task.
  4. Monitor: Track your progress on a daily or weekly basis.

Embrace the Comfort Zone Challenges

Staying in your comfort zone is...well, comfortable. But comfort zones are where dreams go to die. You'll need to stretch yourself, get uncomfortable, and face challenges head-on. The essence of grit lies in how you act in the face of setbacks, not just in easy times.

The Power of Passion: Beyond Hard Work

Hard work is crucial, but let's not forget the "passion" in "passion and perseverance." Loving what you do can make the road to success seem a lot less bumpy. Duckworth emphasizes the importance of having a 'higher-level' aim that you care deeply about. Without passion, even the most diligent hard effect will feel like an arduous task.

Actionable Tips:

  • Find what lights you up: It’s easier to be gritty when you’re passionate.
  • Stick with it: Your first passion might not be your ultimate passion. It can grow.

"The only thing more contagious than a good attitude is a bad one."  David Goggins

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Grit & Pain: The Crucible of Character

You know how some people dominate Ted Talk and leave you spellbound? David Goggins and Angela Duckworth would be those people, but they're not just talking the talk; they're walking the walk. And man, they're going the distance. Let's dive into the psychology of grit and growth, showing you the best way to embrace the face of challenges.

The Melding of Minds: Where Goggins Meets Duckworth

Angela Duckworth, or should I say Dr. Duckworth, made waves with her theory that grit is the most important skill for academic achievement. David Goggins? He's the epitome of grit, often talking about "embracing the suck" in his life. Goggins would say, "Do something that sucks every day." And guess what? Doing hard things daily adds up over a long period of time.

Creating Your Own "Cookie Jar"

Goggins calls it a "cookie jar," but what it really is, is a character trait bank. It’s a place to store past failures and victories, something Duckworth et al. in their research would likely call intrinsic motivation.

Actionable Steps:

  • Document the Journey: Create a list of your academic goals and personal milestones.
  • Revisit the List: During difficult tasks, this will serve as your stepping stone to push you through.

The Nuance of Grit: From 10,000 Hours to 40%

You've heard of the "10,000 Hours Rule," but let's combine that with Goggins' "40% Rule." Why? Because mastering a task isn't just about time; it's about the quality of that time. Duckworth’s research even delves into this, talking about deliberate practice as a predictor of success.

Breaking Barriers: Duckworth's Data Meets Goggins’ Grit

We all remember our test scores and often, they become a defining characteristic in our student success portfolio. But here's a reality check: Both Duckworth and Goggins would argue that these are just numbers. What counts are your characteristics of grit and how you use it for personal growth.


  • Face Obstacles Head-On: Not just in a metaphorical sense. Take on a difficult task, fail, learn, repeat.
  • Self-Therapy and techniques: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mindfulness, etc., can serve as an extra help in your journey.

The Ecosystem of Grit & Growth: A Balanced Life

Ever heard the phrase, "Good grade today, successful life tomorrow?" Well, it's not that simple. In the long run, a combination of passion and perseverance is the key. That's your recipe for future success. We all know the stories of classmates that got stuck at high school level whether a football player or cheerleader living in the past. So, how do we combine Duckworth with the raw power of Goggins?

The Doctrine of Harmonized Strength: Duckworth & Goggins

Duckworth brings in the science, backed by confirmatory factor analysis and empirical evidence. Goggins brings the life lessons, forged in the crucible of the most grueling physical and mental challenges. This is your blueprint for personal growth.

Final Takeaways:

  • The Blend: A blend of hard skills and soft skills, or as Duckworth would say, a combination of grit, is what makes for the best performers.
  • Life is a Long Game: Whether it's middle school students or graduate students, the rules remain the same. Play for the long-term effort, not the immediate reward.

"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."   J.K. Rowling

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Measuring Grit: The Proof is in the Pudding

We've talked a lot about abstract concepts, but let's get real for a second—how do you know if you're actually getting grittier?

The Grit Scale: A Litmus Test for Your Tenacity

Developed by Angela Duckworth, the Grit Scale is a straightforward questionnaire that gauges your levels of passion and perseverance. It's not a crystal ball, but it's a pretty darn good indicator of where you stand and what you need to work on.

Action Steps:

  1. Take the Grit Scale Test: Seriously, Google it. It takes like 10 minutes.
  2. Analyze Your Results: Don’t just gloss over them; understand your strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Re-evaluate Periodically: This isn't a one-and-done deal. Keep tracking your progress.

The Role of Self-Talk

Remember, grit isn't just about working harder; it's about being smarter. Positive self-talk can serve as your inner motivational speaker. Studies have shown that simply reframing the dialogue in your head can have a massive impact on how gritty you become.

Psychological Science and Genetic Make-Up

It's worth mentioning that while your upbringing and environment play a huge role in your grit levels, so does your genetic makeup. But here’s the good news: DNA isn't destiny. Psychological science confirms that your mindset can influence even biological factors.

The Culture of Grit: Moving Beyond Individual Gains

Sure, grit is personal. But it doesn't operate in a vacuum. Our environments can either foster or impede our gritty tendencies. Let's explore that ecosystem.

Corporate World & Educational Systems: A Tale of Two Arenas

Whether you're at the office or in a classroom, grit is a crucial predictor of achievement. In corporate settings, gritty employees are often the backbone of successful projects and leadership initiatives. In schools, grittier students have better academic outcomes, not just in terms of grades but in overall well-being.

How Organizations Can Cultivate Grit

Leaders and educators, listen up. If you're running a team or a classroom, it's your job to cultivate a gritty environment. How? By moving away from a reward system solely based on outcomes. Celebrate the process, the sweat, the grind. Trust me, your organization will be better off for it.

Action Steps for Leaders:

  • Employee Training Programs: Create modules that focus on cultivating grit and career development.
  • Promote a 'Fail Fast, Learn Faster' Culture: Clarify that setbacks are just setup for comebacks.

Grit in Personal Life: More Than Just a Buzzword

We've been focusing a lot on professional and academic aspects, but let's not forget that grit has a significant role in our personal lives as well. Your relationships, your health, your hobbies—they all need a dash of grit.

The Relationship Between Grit and Mental Health

Having grit doesn't mean you're impervious to life's challenges, but it makes you resilient. Psychological science is increasingly interested in how grit can serve as a protective factor against mental health struggles.

Mental Health Tips:

  • Mindfulness and Meditation: It's no secret that a calm mind can better foster grit.
  • Talk Therapy: Sometimes, the key to greater resilience is laboring through issues with a professional.

Hobbies & Side Hustles: Where Grit Gets to Play

You might not think that your weekend woodworking or your little Etsy shop requires grit, but you'd be mistaken. These pursuits are the playgrounds for your grit, letting you experiment, fail, and grow without extreme risks.

Ways to Foster Grit in Leisure Activities:

  • Set Incremental Goals: Whether it's mastering a new yoga pose or reaching a sales milestone, small wins matter.
  • Time Management: Allocate specific times to your hobbies. Make it a ritual.

The Worldwide Phenomenon: Grit Goes Global

Believe it or not, the importance of grit is recognized around the globe. Different studies across various cultures show that the basic principles of grit universally apply. From high school students in the U.S. to corporate leaders in Asia, the story is the same: grit matters.

The Universality of Grit

While the specifics may vary, the core essence of grit remains the same regardless of your geographic location. It's like the concept of love; the language may differ, but the feeling? Universally understood.

Global Trends:

  • Rise in Grit-Centric Educational Programs: From Scandinavia's focus on lifelong learning to Japan's emphasis on "grit" as a part of their curriculum, it's a growing trend.
  • Corporate Emphasis on Soft Skills: Across continents, companies are valuing traits like grit over technical skills alone.

Reference: Scandinavian model of popular education and lifelong learning in Japan

"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will."    Vince Lombardi

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The Modern Imperative: Why Grit is More Important Than Ever

Okay, quick reality check. We live in a world where the pace of change is faster than ever. That diploma or degree isn’t a free pass to a life of comfort anymore. In a constantly growing landscape, grit and a growth mindset aren’t just “nice-to-haves,” they’re essential.

Future Research and the Success of Others

Looking forward, expect to see even more research delving into the nuances of grit and growth mindset. As studies keep piling up, even skeptics will have a hard time denying the empirical evidence supporting these ideas. But why wait for future research when you can become a success story right now?

Key Takeaways:

  • In today’s world, adaptability and resilience, hallmarks of both grit and a growth mindset, are more important than ever.
  • Institutions of higher education and workplaces gradually recognize the value of these traits and integrating them into their criteria for success.


What is the power of grit for students?

The power of grit for students cannot be overstated. It's the engine that drives them through academic challenges, shapes how they tackle difficult subjects, and even affects their emotional and social development. Having grit means possessing the resilience and tenacity to push through when the going gets tough.

It's not just about being able to take a hit, but also about standing back up and continuing to move forward. Students with grit are more likely to take challenging courses, handle academic stress, and ultimately succeed in their educational journey.

Why is grit important for students?

Grit is essential for students because the educational path is filled with setbacks and challenges, both big and small. Whether it's getting a low grade, facing a challenging subject, or dealing with social dynamics, grit provides the resilience needed to bounce back.

It encourages a growth mindset, which fosters a love for learning rather than a fear of failure. Research has shown that students with higher levels of grit are more likely to achieve academic success, and it often serves as a better predictor of achievement than IQ or talent.

How do you develop grit in a team?

Developing grit within a team involves creating a culture where resilience, perseverance, and a growth mindset are valued. Here are a few actionable steps:

  1. Set Clear Goals: Make sure the team understands what they're working toward. Shared objectives provide a sense of purpose.
  2. Encourage Open Communication: Create a safe space where team members feel comfortable sharing their setbacks and successes. This can make way for collective problem-solving.
  3. Celebrate Small Wins: It's easy to get bogged down with the magnitude of a project. Celebrating minor victories can fuel your team's resolve to continue the journey.
  4. Offer Constructive Feedback: Use setbacks as teaching moments rather than punitive measures. This creates an atmosphere where people are not afraid to try and fail.
  5. Provide Resources: Equip your team with the tools and training they need to succeed, making grit easier.

What is an example of grit and growth mindset?

Imagine a young athlete who cannot qualify for a regional tournament. Instead of succumbing to defeat, they analyze what went wrong and create a new training regimen. They consult with their coaches, peers, and even competitors to understand how they can improve. Six months later, not only do they qualify for the tournament but also take home the gold. That is grit in action.

Pair that with a growth mindset, where the athlete believes they can improve and develop new skills over time rather than being confined to their initial abilities. The athlete doesn't just think, "I'm not good enough." Instead, they think, "I'm not good enough yet." This is a perfect blend of grit and a growth mindset.

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