Skillsoft Blog

What’s grit got to do with it?

By Tara O’Sullivan


Have you ever wondered about success, or more accurately, about who is successful and why? Do you think it’s simply down to intelligence and therefore if you were not lucky enough to be born with a high IQ, there is nothing you can do about how successful you will be in your job or life?

Angela Duckworth, an accomplished speaker (her TED talk is one of the most-viewed of all time), recipient of numerous awards for her contributions to K-12 education, and the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, asked this question too.

But Angela, rather than settling for idle speculation or a reductive, fatalistic viewpoint, opted to complete some research, research that took her from the halls of New York City public schools to West Point Academy and conversations with high achievers like JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll.

All this time she was looking for that one key element that determined who achieved success, what was it that differentiated successful people from everyone else.

Her answer?

The New York Times bestseller, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, in which she explains how all her research unequivocally points to the following truth – that the secret to outstanding achievement is not natural ability, but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

While “grit” is not one single tangible thing, it shares or includes some of the principles behind Dr. Carol Dweck’s ‘growth mindset.’ People familiar with the Japanese principle Kaizen will recognize the shared emphasis on continuous improvement.

But if pressed, grit is sticking/staying power. It is not giving up and striving always to get better and improve.

Grit in many ways means we can no longer use the excuse of natural ability, or rather the lack thereof, for poor performance or a refusal to take on a new skill or subject. Instead, it is acknowledging that while something may not come naturally to you, it will come with time, practice and perseverance. And it is learning to stick to something which is perhaps one of the most important lessons we can learn from Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Such is the profound impact and influence such thinking has on the individual and the workplace; we felt we had to ask Angela to share her thoughts with our clients.

She agreed and so I’m thrilled to announce that Angela will be speaking at our next live event on Thursday, November 16.

To hear Angela and her talk Grit: The Science of Success, join us and learn how to use ‘grit’ to achieve your goal – whatever that may be for you, we encourage you to sign up through your Skillsoft portal.

Tara O’Sullivan is the Chief Creative Officer at Skillsoft.

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