In this instant New York Times bestseller, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”
Drawing on her own powerful story as the daughter of a scientist who frequently noted her lack of “genius,” Duckworth, now a celebrated researcher and professor, describes her early eye-opening stints in teaching, business consulting, and neuroscience, which led to the hypothesis that what really drives success is not “genius” but a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance.
In Grit, she takes readers into the field to visit cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, teachers working in some of the toughest schools, and young finalists in the National Spelling Bee. She also mines fascinating insights from history and shows what can be gleaned from modern experiments in peak performance. Finally, she shares what she’s learned from interviewing dozens of high achievers—from JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff to Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll.
Among Grit’s most valuable insights:
*Why any effort you make ultimately counts twice toward your goal *How grit can be learned, regardless of I.Q. or circumstances *How lifelong interest is triggered *How much of optimal practice is suffering and how much ecstasy *Which is better for your child—a warm embrace or high standards *The magic of the Hard Thing Rule
Winningly personal, insightful, and even life-changing, Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that—not talent or luck—makes all the difference.
This reading group guide for Gritincludes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Angela Duckworth’s Grit, a longtime New York Times bestseller, is a master class in the components of grit: the combination of passion and perseverance that can take a life from good to great to exceptional. From studies of spelling bee champions to Olympic athletes to her own life as a researcher and mother, Duckworth takes the reader through a fascinating landscape of experiments and experiences, unlocking the psychological secrets of success. At once a primer in what makes a person gritty and a toolkit for cultivating that complex of skills, Grit is essential reading for any student, professional, or parent—or anyone who strives for a more demanding, fulfilling, and rewarding life.
Topics and Questions for Discussion
1. In the preface to Grit, Duckworth describes her father repeatedly calling her “no genius” as a child—ironic because she was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Grant in mid-career. How were your intellectual merits evaluated when you were a child? What impact do you think that had on you?
2. Duckworth’s formula for achievement is that talent combined with effort equals skill and skill combined with effort equals achievement, meaning that effort counts twice (page 42). Does this resonate with you? Can you think of any examples of this formula in your own life?
3. Describe the difference between passion and perseverance.
4. The variance of the Grit Scale scores by age can be explained either by cultural changes or the “maturity principle”—so, either older adults are grittier because they were raised in a different, more grit-focused culture, or people become grittier as they age (page 85). How does the research support each of these theories? How does your own experience support them?
5. Duckworth identifies four characteristics that particularly gritty people tend to have: interest in what they do, the capacity to practice, a sense of purpose in their work, and hope for the future (page 91). Can you think of any examples in this book, from Olympic athletes to schoolchildren, who exhibit or don’t exhibit these qualities? From your own life?
6. Do you think passion is necessary to have a happy or successful career? What do you make of the formula that passion is built through discovery, development, and then deepening?
7. What distinguishes deliberate practice from other kinds of practice? Do you believe deliberate practice and flow are incompatible?
8. Consider the parable of the bricklayers (page 149). Is it possible for everyone to treat their job like a “calling”? What social forces prevent or encourage that possibility?
9. What distinguishes a growth from a fixed mindset? Do you believe intelligence is something that can change over a lifetime?
10. Are you a psychologically wise parent? Were you parented in a psychologically wise way? Take the quiz (page 214) and discuss.
11. There’s a positive correlation between Grit Grid scores and family income. Why do you think this is?
12. How might you apply the Hard Thing Rule in your life? If you have children, how does it compare with your parenting style?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Measure your own grit by taking the Grit Scale quiz (55). Discuss whether your score matched or failed to match your expectations.
Angela Duckworth, PhD, is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. She has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs. She is also the Founder and Scientific Director of the Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development. She completed her BA in neurobiology at Harvard, her MSc in neuroscience at Oxford, and her PhD in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance is her first book and an instant New York Times bestseller.
One of "The Hottest Spring Nonfiction Books" —The Wall Street Journal
One of "The Year's Best Life Hacks" —Glamour
"Angela Duckworth [is] the psychologist who has made 'grit' the reigning buzzword in education-policy circles...Duckworth's ideas about the cultivation of tenacity have clearly changed some lives for the better...In this book, Duckworth, whose TED talk has been viewed more than eight million times, brings her lessons to the reading public." —Judith Shulevitz, The New York Times Book Review
"It really isn't talent but practice—along with passion—that makes perfect, explains psychologist Duckworth in this illuminating book. Inspiration for non-geniuses everywhere." —People
“Psychologists have spent decades searching for the secret of success, but Angela Duckworth is the one who found it. In this smart and lively book, she not only tells us what it is, but also how to get it.” —Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness
“Grit is a persuasive and fascinating response to the cult of IQ fundamentalism. Duckworth reminds us that it is character and perseverance that set the successful apart.” —Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers
“Impressively fresh and original…Grit scrubs away preconceptions about how far our potential can take us.” —Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
“Fascinating. Angela Duckworth pulls together decades of psychological research, inspiring success stories from business and sports, and her own unique personal experience and distills it all into a set of practical strategies to make yourself and your children more motivated, more passionate, and more persistent at work and at school.” —Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed