Grit is a psychological trait that is termed positive and non-cognitive based on the person’s perseverance and resolution to achieve the goals in life. It is an amalgamation of passion and effort, which states the determination for long-term life goals and achievements. Duckworth precisely defined Grit in 2007 as “perseverance and passion for achieving long-term goals.” He carried out an extensive study on Grit and proposed that grit can serve as a better predictor of success as compared to Intelligence or Emotional Quotient. Grit is mostly comprised of one’s ability to stick to a task and be able to pursue ambitions and act to achieve lifetime goals but put in a lot of effort and passion. This evokes a positive psychological trait in a person. Another essential domain is the consistency of interest of an individual over an extended period. These two things dominantly make up grit, and in the following discussion, we will extensively discuss what positive or negative impacts can grittiness have on one’s personality.
Starting off with the interests and personality traits of gritty people. We are the kind of people for whom it is a popular thing that a person who achieves something extraordinary or overcomes insurmountable odds is one hell of a genius. Common examples quoted are Einstein, Newton, Nash, etc. So people have stereotyped such people with the word genius. On the other hand, it is the saying of Einstein himself that, “Genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.” According to Duckworth, 90% is of much higher importance. So generally, people are of the opinion that an extraordinary person is born with the innate skills and talents that make them shine and be capable of being called a genius. But this is not the case. The 90% perspiration, as mentioned in Einstein’s saying, is called Grit – tough-mindedness, perseverance, and hard work. Duckworth carried out extensive research in this domain and finally drew out that grit is the outcome of four ingredients: Deliberate practice, hope, interest, and purpose. The author of Stumbling on Happiness states that “Psychologists have spent decades searching for the secret of success, but Duckworth is the one who found it.” The light will be shed on each of these ingredients
The concept of Grit didn’t turn up anywhere. Duckworth had done pervasive research on it, and the theory of Grit took place. Grit is very essentially a suitable opposite of quitting. Duckworth put forward the essence of perseverance and how important is it to embed passion in your goals. In her TED talk, she put forward this new landmark concept, after which everyone got a storm inside of them. There has become a sharp boundary between those who support this concept and those who do not.
The importance of perseverance is one-half of the equation. The other half is the interest and passion found entangled with the efforts and hard work. The people who have a higher measure of grittiness have so much interest in their domain that the questions related to it the time flashing in their minds. They go to sleep and wake up in the morning with the same flashing questions. Their thoughts are so clung to the domains of their interest that it is almost impossible to detach them from them. Therefore, to increase the capacity of grit in one’s personality, it is essential to develop and enhance interest. The first part of this process is to find the importance and then make it consistent over the period. Interest is generated suddenly out of nowhere. In fact, it needs to be evoked again and again. People with high grit do the same, and then to keep their interest active, they ask questions within questions. It is essential to foster the passion and then produce it in the form of benefits. That is the first ingredient of Grittiness.
The second essential element of Grittiness, as pointed out by Duckworth, is Deliberate Practice. Setting out challenges for yourself and trying to break your records is what defines deliberate practice. The people with grittiness set on board with the intention of not looking back with dissatisfaction but to look forward with the utmost eagerness and want to grow. This is deliberate practice. This includes the people who have almost achieved their goals but are unable to satiate their hunger for growing and flourishing. Such people don’t want to do well in the area they already do well in. Instead, they focus on their weaknesses and try to overcome them. They set out their challenges intentionally and then try to work hard for them. One can only improve if deliberate problems are set. So, this is a kind of intensive practice that polishes the expert. A psych writer, Malcolm Gladwell, put forward a 10,000-hour rule which was based on the principle that to master any field, at least 10,000 hours of deliberate practice is needed.
The third element put forth by Duckworth is the desire to help others. Gritty people are selfless. They think far beyond their existence. Psychologists Amy Wisniewski and Barry Schwartz did extensive research about how people are successful in finding a purpose in their lives and the desire to help others. According to the psych researcher Angela, passion has two ingredients. One is interesting, and the other is the purpose. The gritty people try to incorporate both interests and use them in their passion. In the paradigm of GRIT, the object is not a mere ordinary purpose. It has a deeper meaning that surpasses self and goes beyond just goal orientation.
The third and last element of Grittiness is Hope. According to Angela, the kind of hope associated with grit is a different kind of faith. “I hope that tomorrow will be a good day” differs from “I am determined to make tomorrow a good day.” The latter characterizes hope associated with grit. According to Angela, gritty people do not rely on luck for what is going to happen next. They make their success forged through hard work and effort. In the process of understanding hope, it is imperative not to overreact to the failures and setbacks one gets. Instead, they should be tried to overcome in the best possible way. According to Angela Duckworth, “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit has stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out.”
Having defined Angela’s perspective about Grit and discussed the four elements of grit personality, let’s now consider the views and perspectives of other people and how they think about the concept of Grit. There was a German philosopher, Nietzsche, who was of the opinion that excellence is only appreciated when it comes out of nowhere, like magic. When one knows that this came out of slow, gradual, and cool origins, the excellence seems to lose its essence. This exactly happens with the word genius. When being able is characterized as effortless, the audience is more pleased with it because it completely satiates their thoughts about being a genius. But when someone is described as having become a genius through slow and gradual hard work, the audience is not pleased in that way.
Gale M. Lucas, a researcher, published a paper in which he highlighted that when things get tough, persistence and perseverance become “costly.” In the article, he is of the viewpoint that grittier individuals stick to something for a very long time when they have several other opportunities to move on. Grittier individuals have a rare chance of giving up. He put forward the idea that people with a high percentage of grit have more focus on completing the challenging task instead of completing the work. An excerpt from his paper says:
“Individuals high or low in grit engage equally when succeeding, but, when facing a losing battle, grittier participants persist to a greater extent.”
But there are two views on this: Sometimes, it is a beneficial strategy to persist when failure is encountered, but at other times, too much persistence can be harmful and lead one nowhere.
Marcus Credé is a researcher who published her meta-analytic synthesis work on grit literature. In the paper, he critically reviewed the concept put forth by Duckworth. He is of the view that the idea of grit is very staunchly related to conscientiousness and is very moderately associated with performance. He also mentioned in his paper that:
“Interventions designed to enhance grit may only have weak effects on performance and success, that the construct validity of grit is in question, and that the primary utility of the grit construct may lie in the perseverance facet.”
He carried out a study in Lowa State and found no evidence showing that grit improves performance. He stated that the contribution of grit in helping you reach your goals is very over-stated. Grit is not directly related to performance. So he is a prominent detractor of the proposed concept of Grit.
People have also written several blogs and articles highlighting their viewpoints on the concept of Grit. Ira Glass mentioned on her blog that it is not a blessing to know everything about what is going on. In fact, not knowing everything is a blessing too. People who don’t see the difference between right and wrong and the happiest kind of people since they believe that whatever they are doing is right. Such people are unable to figure out competence in themselves. One first needs to detect competency in oneself before becoming competent. Grit would inevitably fail in such cases where people are ignorant but self-confident.
Some of the authors have also published papers regarding the quality of results put forth by Angela Duckworth. The papers mention the “only modest” relationship between grit and the evaluation of the academic performance of a person. He is of the view that grit is not a useful parameter to evaluate the performance of an individual. Angela responded to the criticism of her results by admitting that they were not of excellent quality but sticking to her concept of Grit. In her reply, she says that:
“I aspire to be a scientist who remains open to criticism because I can’t possibly be 100% right about everything!”
An Indian researcher Shankar Vedantam also published a paper on Grit in which he mentioned that Grit is relatively a very new concept to be adopted for evaluation of performance. It is currently not in a perfect state to replace the existing evaluation methods like Intelligent Quotient. Emotional Quotient etc. He also mentioned some of the negative points of Grit, for example. Sticking to something for too long can be harmful as well. It is always better to move on if one thing is not working. But grit puts forward the idea of perseverance, which is different from that. The researcher characterizes Stubbornness as a negative trait of Grit since there are many things, goals, and relationships in life that are not at all productive anymore, and one needs to move on. Grit contradicts this idea. An excerpt from his paper says:
“Research has also pointed to a potential downside to grit. Like stubbornness, too much grit can keep us stuck to goals, ideas, or relationships that should be abandoned.
So basically, there are a lot of advocates and detractors of Grit, and everyone has their way of looking at it. But on a broader perspective, the idea of Grit is a very novel approach to the evaluation of performance, and researchers do not consider it as a trait directly related to performance. A person can still be competent if he does not persevere. The ignorant people have no idea about what is right and wrong, but whatever they are doing, they are doing it with confidence, and that is what matters the most.
In a nutshell, Grit has become a very hot topic amongst researchers and all educational institutions which are very clearly divided amongst advocates and detractors. It is a newly emerged topic, and most people are not convinced of the performance evaluation metric since they think that “having an interest in something” and “perseverance” have a fragile line between them, and Grit is acting as a medium to merge these two.
1. Duckworth, Angela Lee. “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.” TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_grit_the_power_of_passion_and_perseverance.
This is a very famous TED talk given by Angela Duckworth on the topic of “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.” In she gave a very concise definition of grit as the passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. She started studying this concept by analyzing why some students were better at mathematics than others. She draws a boundary between “grittiness” and “talent.” Since talent is something that is innate to you, it cannot make you gritty. People who own talents are very less likely to develop grit since it requires much perseverance and hard work. Because of this, talent can sometimes relate inversely to grit. The ability to work, learn, and understand is not static, and one can keep growing by putting in more effort and contribution.
2. “In Defense of Ignorance.” This American Life, 1 Feb. 2018, www.thisamericanlife.org/585/in-defense-of-ignorance.
In this article, Ira has brought forward a very different idea that ignorance is bliss. There are myriads of incompetent people in this world. Ignorant people are somewhat self-assured that whatever they are doing in life is fine. They become so confident even more than the people who are doing well. The reason for that confidence is that such people are unable to figure out their competence in themselves. The skills required to become competent are somewhat similar to the skills needed to detect competency.
3. “No Evidence That Grit Improves Performance, Iowa State Analysis Finds.” RSS, www.news.iastate.edu/news/2016/05/18/grit-analysis.
This article stamps Grit with negation, claiming that it cannot work well to predict the academic performance of a person. Grit is relatively a newly emerged concept that has come part with intelligence and conscientiousness. People are unable to digest it completely. Angie is of the view that there is not a sharp difference between conscientiousness and grit. The questionnaire criterion is almost similar. He put forth the view that other measures like class attendance and attention, adjustments, anxiety during tests and papers, and normal study habits contribute more towards performance evaluation than just grit.
4. Kamenetz, Anya. “MacArthur ‘Genius’ Angela Duckworth Responds To A New Critique Of Grit.” NPR, NPR, 25 May 2016, www.npr.org/section/ed/2016/05/25/479172868/angela-Duckworth-responds-to-a-new-critique-of-grit.
In this article, the author has argued with the idea of Angela Duckworth that a person’s capacity to achieve success can be very well measured by how well he remains to stick to his goals. The argumentative paper mentions that grit is overrated. Duckworth has also responded to the controversies arising from her idea put forth. The Crede’s paper had pinged Duckworth for poorly describing her final results, and Duckworth admitted to that. Secondly, Crede finds “only a modest” relationship between grit and the evaluation of the academic performance of a person. Another criticism was about the impact of grit, which Duckworth admitted must be small to medium for psychologists. The overall articles critically analyze the concept of Grit put forward by Angela Duckworth.
5. “Grit: A Skeptical Look at the Latest Educational Fad (##).” Alfie Kohn, 17 Aug. 2015, www.alfiekohn.org/article/grit.
The article critically analyzes the concept of grit and how it is creating an educational fad. The writer calls the concept “skeptical.” He is of the view that infusing the concept of grit in our students is equivalent to imposing on them what we want, not what they want. Grit wants to surpass the other intelligence level tests, but that seems to be impossible since asking the students to learn discipline is like compelling them to go on their choices. The writer has highlighted several issues in which grit can act unhealthy and inappropriate.
6. Kamenetz, Anya. “MacArthur ‘Genius’ Angela Duckworth Responds To A New Critique Of Grit.” NPR, NPR, 25 May 2016, www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/05/25/479172868/angela-Duckworth-responds-to-a-new-critique-of-grit.
Angela Duckworth was able to get MacArthur’s Genius’ grant through an idea she put forth called “grit.” The idea puts forth the concept that the success probability of a man can be estimated by how determined and resolute he is for his long-term life goals. This idea got a lot of criticism, and one of them was mentioned in this article where grit is said to be almost impossible to replace the already existing intelligence measures.
7. Vedantam, Shankar, et al. “The Power and Problem Of Grit.” NPR, NPR, 5 Apr. 2016, www.npr.org/2016/04/04/472162167/the-power-and-problem-of-grit.
This source again highlights the journey of psychologist Angela Duckworth and how she paved the way for herself to study grit. She started analyzing why some students are right and math and some are not. She revealed that her primary concern was how much effort matters to achieve good grades or any other goal in life. She was interviewed by a lot of people in which she always put forward the four essential elements of grittiness: interest, desire to help others, deliberate practice, and hope. Psychologists are still underway to determine how to cultivate grit to achieve better performance evaluations.
8. Vedantam, Shankar, et al. “The Power and Problem Of Grit.” NPR, NPR, 5 Apr. 2016, www.npr.org/2016/04/04/472162167/the-power-and-problem-of-grit.
The source highlights the effort made by psychologist Angela Duckworth to put forward a new trending concept of Grit. She defined Grit as perseverance to achieve long-term goals. There are many arguments that people posted regarding the results she put forward. Such people are of the view that the state-of-the-art techniques of measuring the “Genius” elements like IQ, EQ, etc. make much more sense. Some researchers have also focused on the downside of grit that is characterized by stubbornness to stick to some relationships and goals that are not fruitful in the long run. Such kind stubbornness is absurd and can lead a person to nowhere.
9. Useem, Jerry. “Is Grit Overrated?” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 18 Apr. 2016, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/05/is-grit-overrated/476397/.
The article published in The Atlantic highlights the downsides of grit and what kind of negative impact it can have on people. Duckworth has argued that Grit is something that needs to be developed for the prediction of academic performances through a “Grit Scale.” She has claimed that perseverance and the particular desire to achieve something in life is a fundamental concept that has been underrated for a long time. However the other researchers do not agree with her much since they have found Grit to be essential but not that attractive. The article highlights how the existing measures of performance are better than incorporating Grit.
10. Zernike, Kate. “Testing for Joy and Grit? Schools Nationwide Push to Measure Students’ Emotional Skills.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 29 Feb. 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/03/01/us/testing-for-joy-and-grit-schools-nationwide-push-to-measure-students-emotional-skills.html?_r=0.
The New York Times articles again highlight the work done by Angela Duckworth, who was of the opinion that the current measuring standards for performance evaluation are not up to the mark. Grit has become a very hot topic in educational institutions after the talk of Angela Duckworth. She even resigned from the board members who used to oversee the Californian Project since she did not like the evaluations based on the test papers.