Perhaps even more than talent or sheer luck, "grit" is the one quality that sets high achievers apart from everyone else. And there are ways we can cultivate it in ourselves.
Photo by Mopic (Shutterstock).
In an interview with the American Psychological Association, prestigious MacArthur Fellowship winner Angela Lee Duckworth explains how grit is different from self-control:
Grit is the disposition to pursue very long-term goals with passion and perseverance, sustained over time. So the emphasis is on stamina.
Self-control is related — we often measure self-control and grit in the same sample and find a strong correlation — but the difference is time scale. Self-control is the ability to resist momentary distractions and temptations in order to reach a goal, but the goal doesn't have to be something that you're pursuing for years or decades.
Grit, in essence, is consistently "showing up" and persevering despite the obstacles. It can predict success for things like winning the National Spelling Bee and even staying married (at least for men).
To increase your grittiness, Duckworth says there are three main qualities or drivers to cultivate:
- Optimism and a growth mindset (versus believing you can't really change much) — so you can overcome setbacks
- Working on things that you really value and are passionate about
- Not putting a high value on the costs of working very hard: "Really gritty people are not constantly worried about what they could be doing instead."
Check out the full article for more observations on this thing called grit.
What sets high achievers apart? [American Psychological Association]