What makes someone a good athlete? Or a good leader? Why are some able to excel at their jobs and achieve their goals while others fail?
Research is starting to reveal that mental toughness— or “grit” as they call it — plays a more important role than anything else for achieving your goals in health, business, and life.
Angela Duckworth, then a graduate student in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, went up to West Point to study 1,200 new cadets. The first -years were about to start “Beast Barracks”, an infamous seven-week training program during which they’d toil in the classroom and on the field for 17 hours a day without a break. Many would drop out. Duckworth wanted to find out why some cadets managed to endure this challenge, while others just gave up.
Duckworth started to study children and adults in all kinds of challenging settings, like the National Spelling Bee—where she would try to predict which children would advance farthest in the competition. Her research team studied rookie teachers working in tough neighborhoods asking which teachers are still going to be teaching by the end of the school year and of those, who will be the most effective at improving learning outcomes for their students. They even partnered with private companies, asking, which of the salespeople is going to keep their jobs, and who is going to earn the most. They interviewed a variety of professionals ranging from investment bankers, to physicians, lawyers, and journalists.
In her TEDTalk, Duckworth concludes, “In all those very different contexts, one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. And it wasn’t social intelligence. It wasn’t good looks, physical health, and it wasn’t IQ. It was grit.”
Duckworth defines grits as, “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
The bottom line is, in every area of life — from your education to your work to your health — it is your amount of grit, mental toughness, and perseverance predicts your level of success more than any other factor we can find.You can take the grit survey do determine how much grit you have here.