Grit: the key to success


Grit. It’s a term you’ve probably heard mentioned at some point, but what does it really mean and why is it so important?

It was defined by psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth, who studies non-IQ competencies, as ‘a passion and perseverance for long term goals’. It’s the ability to persevere in the face of adversity and being passionate enough about your goals to persist with them. Having resilience, determination and a growth mindset is all linked to grit. Being gritty is not about not showing emotions, it’s about having the ability to understand your strengths and weaknesses and having the tools to deal with obstacles and setbacks.

Duckworth’s research indicates that success, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t depend on talent but rather on how gritty you are. Similarly, grit is unrelated or even inversely related to talent. You can have both, one but not the other, or neither, but it’s grit that is the crucial component when predicting success.

Grit may be an innate quality in some people, but it’s also something you can grow and teach yourself. Like developing a growth mindset, it requires small changes in your habits, the way you think and how you perceive situations. Rather than being motivated by external rewards, having grit means you are motivated by an internal self-belief and will-power that constantly drives you forward, no matter what the circumstances are. This is perhaps the core reason as to why people with grit succeed.


image showing puzzle pieces of persistence and passion fitting in with grit


How to develop grit


Although grit is a skill that can be acquired, it isn't an easy thing to develop. These are not quick hacks but rather some habits and principles that can help you to develop grit.


Find your passion

 Having a true passion for your goals is key, it’s the foundation on which you build your career and develop your personal life. If you’re not truly passionate about what you’re doing or aiming towards, it can seem a lot more challenging. Where a person is passionate about something, grit naturally follows.


Practice optimism

Having hope that things will work out even when it doesn’t seem like it is an important part of having grit. Being blindly optimistic can be counterproductive, understand that it’s okay to have negative thoughts and beliefs sometimes, but it’s your reaction to those thoughts that matters. Accept your thoughts and feelings but then replace or restructure them to be more balanced. Practicing optimism can help you become more solution oriented which may be beneficial in some situations.


Accept failure

People who have grit accept and embrace the fact that they will fail sometimes. Everyone will, it’s how you react to it that sets you apart. Anticipating failure and realising that it is essential to personal and professional growth is being gritty. Acknowledging that something didn’t work out and seeing what areas you can work on to help prevent the same scenario in the future is something that requires practice but will greatly benefit you.


Work on your strengths

You’re most likely to hear how you should work on your weaknesses and make yourself a more well-rounded person, this isn’t wrong, but it is also important to work on your strengths. When working on what you’re good at, you see yourself improving more frequently. You tend to enjoy the things you’re good at, therefore when working on the things you’re interested in, grit comes easier.


Find your motivator

Figure out what motivates you, why do you want to achieve your goal? If you find something meaningful, that gives you a sense of purpose, you will be more driven to achieve that goal than if you only had interest in something. For some people this may be difficult to figure out. It can take time, trial and error and introspection which is something not all of us are used to, however having a motivator alongside your passion is what will continuously propel you forward.


Be self-compassionate

To be gritty requires a sense of self belief and compassion. Understand that we’re only human and growing and changing is all something we will experience. Treating ourselves with kindness, especially when we encounter difficulties or don’t live up to our own expectations helps us have a balanced perspective. Similarly, celebrating milestones and improvements will help you see that all your energy and efforts are helping you build a skill and acknowledge your growth so far.


Don’t keep score

Keeping score will inevitably hold you back. Constantly comparing and searching for gratification will become unproductive. People with grit understand that sometimes you will need to put more effort in whilst not seeing many results. As with any relationship, sometimes it is not 50/50 but hard work and perseverance will pay off. Delaying short term gratification for a long-term gain is an important aspect of having grit.



Developing grit is not an easy thing, it can be difficult and draining but it will be life changing and crucial to reaching both personal and career goals. Finding that sense of motivation and pushing yourself is what having grit is all about. It won’t come easily but, then again, nothing good ever does. Consistently putting in effort will achieve tangible results, even if it takes a long time. Realise that you will grow and succeed no matter how much grief it causes you, that is grit.