Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

My Score – 8/10

This book is great for solopreneurs or those doing actual deep work. I personally found it very solidifying in what I do. If you’re reading this, then it’s probably a good fit for you too.

Pros

  • Thorough research into grit and what makes people “gritty”.

  • Self-test to see how gritty you are. This test is hard to fudge if you are honest with yourself, a great sign.

  • Learning about grit and how to develop it has some amazing positive ramifications both personally and worldwide.

Cons

  • Too long. Too many stories and anecdotes. I skipped these. The book could have been half as long.

Favorite Quote

… as much as talent counts, effort counts twice.

Especially in today’s world, effort is rare and should be prized by individuals and organizations.

Read the book to learn why effort counts twice. Very cool stuff.

Main takeaway

Will Smith

Similar Reads

Part I: What Grit Is and Why It Matters

Chapter 1: Showing Up

… no matter the domain, the highly successful had a kind of ferocious determination that played out in two ways. First, these exemplars were unusually resilient and hardworking. Second, they knew in a very, very deep way what it was they wanted. They not only had determination, they had direction. It was this combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special. In a word, they had grit.

Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another.

Chapter 2: Distracted by Talent

Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources. William James

The “naturalness bias” is a hidden prejudice against those who’ve achieved what they have because they worked for it, and a hidden preference for those whom we think arrived at their place in life because they’re naturally talented. We may not admit to others this bias for naturals; we may not even admit it to ourselves. But the bias is evident in the choices we make.

This is a product of evolutionary psychology. Unfortunately, for the professional, it means making things look easy even when they are not.

… as much as talent counts, effort counts twice.

Chapter 3: Effort Counts Twice

Dan Chambliss, the sociologist who completed the study, observed: “Superlative performance is really a confluence of dozens of small skills or activities, each one learned or stumbled upon, which have been carefully drilled into habit and then are fitted together in a synthesized whole. There is nothing extraordinary or superhuman in any one of those actions; only the fact that they are done consistently and correctly, and all together, produce excellence.”

the main thing is that greatness is doable. Greatness is many, many individual feats, and each of them is doable.”

“With everything perfect,” Nietzsche wrote, “we do not ask how it came to be.” Instead, “we rejoice in the present fact as though it came out of the ground by magic.”

We prefer our excellence fully formed. We prefer mystery to mundanity.

“Our vanity, our self-love, promotes the cult of the genius,” Nietzsche said. “For if we think of genius as something magical, we are not obliged to compare ourselves and find ourselves lacking. . . . To call someone ‘divine’ means: ‘here there is no need to compete.’

Great things are accomplished by those “people whose thinking is active in one direction, who employ everything as material, who always zealously observe their own inner life and that of others, who perceive everywhere models and incentives, who never tire of combining together the means available to them.”

Talent is how quickly your skills improve when you invest effort. Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and use them.

Talent—how fast we improve in skill—absolutely matters. But effort factors into the calculations twice, not once. Effort builds skill. At the very same time, effort makes skill productive.

Accomplishment, in Will’s eyes, is very much about going the distance. Asked to explain his ascendancy to the entertainment elite, Will said: The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is: I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me. You might be all of those things. You got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple.

Staying on the treadmill is one thing, and I do think it’s related to staying true to our commitments even when we’re not comfortable. But getting back on the treadmill the next day, eager to try again, is in my view even more reflective of grit. Because when you don’t come back the next day—when you permanently turn your back on a commitment—your effort plummets to zero. As a consequence, your skills stop improving, and at the same time, you stop producing anything with whatever skills you have.

Many of us, it seems, quit what we start far too early and far too often. Even more than the effort a gritty person puts in on a single day, what matters is that they wake up the next day, and the next, ready to get on that treadmill and keep going.

Chapter 4: How Gritty Are You?

There is a fantastic quiz in the book that helps determine grittiness which I highly recommend.

Each day, you wake up thinking of the questions you fell asleep thinking about. You are, in a sense, pointing in the same direction, ever eager to take even the smallest step forward than to take a step to the side, toward some other destination. At the extreme, one might call your focus obsessive. Most of your actions derive their significance from their allegiance to your ultimate concern, your life philosophy. You have your priorities in order.

Bob advises aspiring cartoonists to submit their drawings in batches of ten, “because in cartooning, as in life, nine out of ten things never work out.”

On any long journey, detours are to be expected. However, the higher-level the goal, the more it makes sense to be stubborn.

Measuring Passion:

  • Trait 1 – Degree to which he works with distant objects in view (as opposed to living from hand to mouth). Active preparation for later life. Working toward a definite goal.

  • Trait 2 – Tendency not to abandon tasks from mere changeability. Not seeking something fresh because of novelty. Not “looking for a change.”

Measuring Perseverance:

  • Trait 3 – Degree of strength of will or perseverance. Quiet determination to stick to a course once decided upon.

  • Trait 4 – Tendency not to abandon tasks in the face of obstacles. Perseverance, tenacity, doggedness.

Chapter 5: Grit Grows

we change when we need to. Necessity is the mother of adaptation.

Lectures don’t have half the effect of consequences.

At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.

Part II: Growing Grit from the Inside Out

Chapter 6: Interest

Worldwide, only 13 percent of adults call themselves “engaged” at work.

passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.

interests are not discovered through introspection. Instead, interests are triggered by interactions with the outside world. The process of interest discovery can be messy, serendipitous, and inefficient. This is because you can’t really predict with certainty what will capture your attention and what won’t. You can’t simply will yourself to like things, either. As Jeff Bezos has observed, “One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves.” Without experimenting, you can’t figure out which interests will stick, and which won’t.

interests thrive when there is a crew of encouraging supporters, including parents, teachers, coaches, and peers. Why are other people so important? For one thing, they provide the ongoing stimulation and information that is essential to actually liking something more and more. Also—more obviously—positive feedback makes us feel happy, competent, and secure.

At the start of an endeavor, we need encouragement and freedom to figure out what we enjoy. We need small wins. We need applause.

For the beginner, novelty is anything that hasn’t been encountered before. For the expert, novelty is nuance.

begin at the beginning: discovery. Ask yourself a few simple questions: What do I like to think about? Where does my mind wander? What do I really care about? What matters most to me? How do I enjoy spending my time? And, in contrast, what do I find absolutely unbearable? If you find it hard to answer these questions, try recalling your teen years, the stage of life at which vocational interests commonly sprout.

Chapter 7: Practice

Kaizen is Japanese for resisting the plateau of arrested development. Its literal translation is: “continuous improvement.” A while back, the idea got some traction in American business culture when it was touted as the core principle behind Japan’s spectacularly efficient manufacturing economy. After interviewing dozens and dozens of grit paragons, I can tell you that they all exude kaizen. There are no exceptions.

Gritty people do more deliberate practice and experience more flow. There’s no contradiction here, for two reasons. First, deliberate practice is a behavior, and flow is an experience. Anders Ericsson is talking about what experts do; Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is talking about how experts feel. Second, you don’t have to be doing deliberate practice and experiencing flow at the same time. And, in fact, I think that for most experts, they rarely go together.

deliberate practice is for preparation, and flow is for performance.

Each of the basic requirements of deliberate practice is unremarkable: • A clearly defined stretch goal • Full concentration and effort • Immediate and informative feedback • Repetition with reflection and refinement But how many hours of practice do most people accomplish that checks all four of these boxes? My guess is that many people are cruising through life doing precisely zero hours of daily deliberate practice.

“Deliberate practice can feel wonderful,” Terry told me. “If you try, you can learn to embrace challenge rather than fear it. You can do all the things you’re supposed to do during deliberate practice—a clear goal, feedback, all of it—and still feel great while you’re doing it. “It’s all about in-the-moment self-awareness without judgment,” he continued. “It’s about relieving yourself of the judgment that gets in the way of enjoying the challenge.”

infants and toddlers spend most of their time trying to do things they can’t, again and again—and yet they don’t seem especially embarrassed or anxious. No pain, no gain is a rule that doesn’t seem to apply to the preschool set. Elena Bodrova and Deborah Leong, psychologists who’ve devoted their careers to studying how children learn, agree that learning from mistakes is something babies and toddlers don’t mind at all. Watch a baby struggle to sit up, or a toddler learn to walk: you’ll see one error after another, failure after failure, a lot of challenge exceeding skill, a lot of concentration, a lot of feedback, a lot of learning. Emotionally? Well, they’re too young to ask, but very young children don’t seem tortured while they’re trying to do things they can’t yet do.

Chapter 8: Purpose

Three bricklayers are asked: “What are you doing?” The first says, “I am laying bricks.” The second says, “I am building a church.” And the third says, “I am building the house of God.”

Part III: Growing Grit from the Outside In

Chapter 10: Parenting For Grit

I stopped reading at this point. The book should have ended here, but I imagine Angela had to fulfill a certain word count for publishing purposes. Sad.

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