Grit: The power of passion and perseverance – Angela Duckworth

static1-squarespaceWith three young boys in our house, reading a book from cover to cover is a rarity. So when I was heading away to a conference recently I took the opportunity to dive into Angela Duckworth’s first book Grit. It was the first book in a long time I read in two long stints and couldn’t put down. The narrative is very well developed and easy to follow whilst diving in and out of research, case studies and anecdotes from spelling bee champions to Olympic swimmers.

In summary it reads as an excellent synthesis of related works in the field of psychology by Carol Dweck (Mindset), Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Flow), Daniel Pink (Drive) and Anders Ericcson (Peak).

Why do naturally talented people frequently fail to reach their potential while other far less gifted individuals go on to achieve amazing things? The secret to outstanding achievement is not talent, but a passionate persistence. In other words, grit.

Overall, Grit is a profoundly interesting read for anyone working with students and it can help us unpack concepts such as IQ, talent, skill, effort, practice, purpose and perseverance. For students there are some huge misconceptions around the value of talent and what Angela explains as our unconscious bias towards the idea that talent leading to achievement.

Angela’s background itself is an interesting story. She left a high powered career as a consultant with McKinsey to become a teacher and overtime furthered her studies to become a psychologist. Her research ultimately explores why people become successful and the book break this down focusing on the following big ideas.

  • the value of effort and how this can develop talents and skills
  • how grit can be learned
  • how life long interests and passions are triggered
  • the value of optimal practice and suffering

You may have spotted her TedTalk back in 2013, which itself is a great preview of the book and something nice to share with students. Hope you find the time to read the book and enjoy as much as I did.

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