Posted by: chelseamanyen | March 24, 2016

True Grit

Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania studies intangible concepts such as self-control and grit to determine how they might predict both academic and professional success. The topic of this TED talk (attached here) is the idea of “grit”. Grit is “passion and perseverance for long term goals”, it is “living life like a marathon, not a sprint”. She and her team studied military students at West Point Military Academy, teachers in rough neighborhoods, and high school students to see if they could predict who would still be there in the end, who would persevere. In her data, “grit” was most related with growth mindset, created by Carol Dweck. We talked about growth and fixed mindsets in class already but simply put, growth mindset people don’t believe that failure is where it ends, they are willing to keep going until they succeed. I think that in relation to our course, women in leadership positions are gritty. The women who are speaking out against discrimination and misrepresentation are the ones with the grit and the drive to make things better for the women leaders of the future. Their fight is a marathon, not a sprint and they work tirelessly to create the change necessary. I found it extremely interesting that some of the smartest people that Duckworth studied did not have grit. It makes me wonder, where does grit come from if not from intelligence? It also makes me question what our generation will do, will it continue the fight and persevere through the losses or will it give up at the first road block? Another question I have is what is the relationship of grit and ambition within women? As a closing thought Duckworth offers a new theory of why certain people are successful and reach their goals besides just intelligence.



  1. I really really liked this video! I found it interesting for 2 reasons. 1. I want to be a teacher so any research regarding education is important to me and 2. I’m a psych major so anything with growth/fixed mindset I love. I really like how she said that there needs to be more a motivational perspective in relation to learning. I think that is something that leaders and teachers are working on…encouraging students to want to learn rather than simply needing to know how to learn. I also like how she said that learning depends on much more than scores and academic performance. I actually did a research project on grit and fixed/growth mindset so it was really cool to review some of those findings while watching the video. I think this can be applied to leaders because as a leader, whether in the business world or in the classroom, we all need to know how be a motivational tool for our followers. Encouraging the growth mindset for our followers is extremely valuable. It’s helping to share the belief that failure is not a permanent condition. As leaders we need to understand that too. One small mistake should not discourage us from finishing the marathon of life…as the video said.

  2. I love this TED talk, we actually recently watched it in my Leading Change class and it really stuck with me.
    A growth mindset is something that anyone needs in order to accomplish something great.
    As we have previously discussed, it took a lot of perseverance, determination, and GRIT to finally break through the Glass Ceiling. I think the greatest part about this talk is the idea that anyone can do anything, all it takes is grit. Achievement requires a refusal of failure and a belief that you can do anything, both things that women in leadership and leaders in general need to have. Part of being a great leader is having passion and behind grit I think we could find passion and purpose. I also think that grit is contagious, if you see someone pushing and working towards success, you will be inspired.
    That is why, among many other reasons, that leaders (women especially) need to display and promote grit.

  3. Great video! Growth mindset is so important to develop for success in all stages of life. Duckworth stated that passion is an important aspect of having grit and I believe that is true because passion is an excellent motivator. My first interviewee, Mary Kate, identified motivation via passion as her leadership style and has found it very effective. She is able to use her passion as the basis for goals of her and her followers. When she is passionate about something, she is much more likely to persevere through the process and I suppose develop “grit” as Duckworth states. Having this passion and grit has left a lasting impact on her followers.

  4. Awesome Talk, and I love opening the topic on failure, because I may have a weird perception of failure. The key to leadership, male or female, is often accepting that failure is necessary for a successful outcome; But I like to go one step further as to refuse the idea of failure. I am a very scientific person, and one of my favorite sayings during research is that “Negative results are still results.” Negative results mean that you SUCCESSFULLY found out a wrong way to achieve your goal, and eventually if you know all the wrong ways, the only way left is the right way. Failure is not real to me, because in my book the only way someone can fail is by not trying. I don’t look at the glass as being half empty, I don’t even look at it as half full. I recognize that half of the glass is filled with water, while the other half is full of air. Together these two things make up life. Now if we replace water with success, and air with failure, then we get the same outcome. A person cannot expect to live with the glass always full of water, because you need the air as well. Just as a leader cannot live with the glass always full of success, since they need failure as well. Failures are mini accomplishments along the road to success. Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get back up. That’s where this Grit comes into play. People need Grit to take failure with stride and realize that failure is a word jealous people made up to stop others from succeeding.

  5. Awesome video, great points. I think we get very caught up in the constraints of our society. Thinking a lot about what is holding us back, and not so much about what we can do to change it. In one of my previous classes we talked about how students more and more are holding back when it comes to offering up answers in class because of a fear of being wrong and thus failure. We are so focused on winning, being right, getting the best grades etc. that we lose out on the process (the place where the most learning is done). It never fails, I always feel like I’ve learned more and retained more in classes that I’ve earned lower grades. Why? Because, despite the grade, I worked tirelessly to understand the concepts, question the theories, and commit time to asking questions. To me, a big part of this idea of “grit” is being fearless. We are so scared these days to step on toes or fall on our face and that limits our abilities to be challenged and grow. Society as a whole needs to reframe failure. The generations need to know that success isn’t all about winning, it’s about having the grit to persevere and learn from those “failures”. We need open, welcoming environments that accept failure to create space for greater innovation. Ok, end rant.

  6. You said you winner where grit comes from of bit from intelligence and if like to pose a thought. What if grit comes from socialization? If the people around you build you up and support your ideas, are you more likely to have grit than someone who is torn down by his or her peers? If those around you believe in a growth mindset, don’t you join the herd?

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