If Grit Is the Key to “Success,” What Is the Key to Grit? (Part II)

GRIT-Success-workthrough it


Let’s pick up right where we left off. By now you’ve watched the TED talk from the prior post.

We start with the understanding and premise that GRIT is a character trait and that character traits are, in essence, habits. This is tremendous news, and we should all be encouraged to know that GRIT is something learned and, like any other habit, can be intentionally crafted.

If you recall, Angela says in her talk: (from transcript)

4:51 So far, the best idea I’ve heard about building grit in kids is something called “growth mindset.” … Dr. Dweck has shown that when kids read and learn about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenge, they’re much more likely to persevere when they fail, because they don’t believe that failure is a permanent condition.


For any habit there is typically a cue and/or trigger (time, place, person, social setting), and it can often be another habit. So, if our intention is to develop the GRIT character trait (and it should be ; ), then we should focus upon what Angela believes is fundamental to its development: the “growth mindset.”

The best way I propose we do this is to identify those individuals who we’ve observed (as my wife put it) to be plucky. For purposes of demonstration, let’s simply list a few historically “great” people.

Here’s a very short and quick list that’s in no particular order (in fact, pretty random to see Gabby Douglass right next to Mahatma Gandhi). Yet, all these characters would be described by the vast majority of people as “successful”; the GRIT character trait is undeniable. Go down the list quickly and ask if they were GRITTY.

  •  Abraham Lincoln
  •   Helen Keller
  •   Thomas Edison
  •  Martin Luther King
  •  Condoleezza Rice
  •  Tom Brady
  •  Gabby Douglass
  •  Mahatma Gandhi
  •  JK Rowling
  • Walt Disney
  • Michael Jordan
  • Kelly Slater

Why not throw in an 11x world champion surfer? ; )

We should then ask, did they all share a common advantage? Were they all rich, tall, good looking? Where they all men, woman, old, young, black, white?

The obvious answer is no. There was definitely no common advantage (not even talent); in fact, you may recall Angela saying that in many cases talent works against some people.

So, this leads us to ask what core  mindsets (thought and action habits) ultimately help a person to develop this overarching GRIT character trait?

We will tackle that question in the next post, part III.


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