I need to start out by saying that I really liked this book and honestly, I wasn’t sure that I was going to. In the first few chapters I kept finding myself thinking that this book was sounding a lot like several of the other books that I have reviewed recently. Despite that fact I found that I was really enjoying the book. The idea of grit is an interesting one and the author writes in a way that the stories and research intertwine seamlessly with each other keeping the reader interested. The book never felt “researchy” to me. When I’m reading the books for these book reviews, I have started listening to the audio books along with actually reading the book. I love a good audio book, but I don’t trust that my retention of just the audio book would be enough for me to be able to write a review of a book, I need to be able to go back and look through the book as I’m writing. But I have found that if I listen to the chapters before I read them, then it all just comes together for me. This audio book was read by the author and she did a really nice job with it, so I can recommend both the audio and print version of this book.
Grit in its basic form is a combination of passion and perseverance. Duckworth’s research states that there are four psychological assets that people who have grit possess.
Interest: To have grit one must develop a passion for what they are doing and to do this one must intrinsically enjoy what they do. A person is going to perform better when they are doing something they enjoy.
Practice: Grit involves perseverance and trying to do something better today than you did it yesterday. Duckworth spends quite a bit of time discussing the idea of “deliberate practice” and “flow”. Deliberate practice is when you focus on a specific goal, as you practice you get feedback on how you are performing and then you do the task over and over until you master it. Flow is when you are performing the task at what seems to be an effortless level. So deliberate practice can lead to flow. The point of practice though is to constantly improve no matter how good you already are at something.
Purpose: Duckworth’s theory of purpose is two -fold, she states that your work should be personally interesting and at the same time it should contribute to the well- being of others. In her research people can find motivation when they believe what they are doing matters to other people. She also asserts that just about any occupation can be a job, a career or a calling, it’s all in the way that you perceive what you are doing.
Hope: This is what keeps you going even when things are difficult.
As I was reading the chapters leading up to hope, I kept thinking to myself that grit reminded me a lot of the ideas that were presented in the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. Duckworth starts the book with the idea that talent alone is not enough for people to achieve success. She sites examples of people who have the ability to get into West Point but don’t make it through the first seven-week intensive training. She breaks it down in this way; talent x effort =skill and skill x effort = achievement. So, effort is the key. Effort with talent becomes skill and effort makes skill more productive. There is also the idea that you can always get better which was sounding a lot like growth mindset. I was very happy when I got to the chapter on hope and Duckworth talks about Dweck’s research and that people who have grit also have a growth mindset.
My favorite chapter of the book is toward the end of the book and is titled “A Culture of Grit”. Duckworth talks throughout the book about how parents, teachers and role models can help instill grit in others. This chapter reinforces the importance of surrounding yourself with other people who possess the characteristics of grit. My favorite line of the book, “if you want to be grittier, find a gritty culture and join it. If you’re a leader, and you want the people in your organization to be grittier, create a gritty culture.” I also realized that I might need to become a Seattle Seahawks fan, but you will have to read the book to figure out why that is.
I have to go back to the beginning of this review when I stated that many of the books that I have read for these reviews are all starting to sound alike. I really reflected on that thought when I finished Grit. And I realized that I am a little off the mark there. It’s not so much that the books are alike but there are definitely overlapping themes in the books. I already mentioned that Mindset is specifically referenced in this book. Having meaningful habits are a big part of having grit and when I was looking up definitions for grit, I found a blog by James Clear the author of Atomic Habits where he talks about this book and has links to Angela Duckworth’s Ted Talks. Grit also has references to happiness and emotional intelligence which have been the themes of other books from this year. It’s actually nice that all the pieces are fitting together. This has also given me a great idea for a future blog so stay tuned.