When we think of grit, or describe someone as “gritty”, we usually think of someone who possesses a blend of determination, courage, and passion. Also, someone who “comes from behind to secure a victory”. I think of a boxer, or an MMA fighter, someone like Rocky Balboa, who never seems to give up, no matter what the odds are against them.
Grit, has also been defined by researcher Angela Duckworth, founder of the Duckworth Labs at the University of Pennsylvania, as “the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals“, and in repeated studies it is being shown to be a critical element in an individual’s ability to achieve success in the face of obstacles.
Duckworth, in a well documented experiment, measured the influence of grit on freshman West Point cadets before they started their notoriously difficult summer training course. To measure their grit, she had them take a written test – 17 questions where they self-assessed their ability to persist past failure, stick to their goals and overcome obstacles. The test was simple, and could easily be completed in a matter of minutes, but it turned out that the test was remarkably accurate in determining whether or not a cadet succeeded in their course. In fact, it turned out to be a better measure of potential success than normal predictive indicators such as GPA, or IQ scores.
Here is a copy of the test that she administered. Through the link you can find out how “gritty” you are.
I believe in the results of this study, but I also think that grit is something that can be developed through practice. It is learned through repetition. This form of practice involves exposing ourselves intentionally to difficult situations, stretching ourselves voluntarily outside of our comfort zone, and being willing to fail (reaching for difficult goals) so that we no longer are scared of failure.