Grit – One of the most important traits for success (Could you use more?)

 In Better Life, Goals, Self confidence

Why are some people more successful than others? Intuitively, we may think it’s because they must be smarter or more talented.  Sure, all of these can be important ingredients, but not if the critical component is missing.  What is it?  According to recent studies by Angela Duckworth, the best predictor of success is GRIT – the ability to pursue long-term goals with passion and perseverance.  Research has shown that grit is a better predictor of success than IQ or ability.  One study found that grit is a much better indicator than SAT scores or physical fitness of whether first year cadets will drop out of West Point Academy.  It can also predict retention in the US Special forces and in real estate sales.

Although some people are naturally grittier than others, the good news is we can all improve our grit.

Think back to a time in you life when you were pursuing a long term goal.  What kept you going?  I remember when I decided to quit my job so I could go to graduate school and earn my Ph.D.  It had been five years since I had studied or taken a test in college.  I not only had to remember how to study but I also had to relearn everything I had forgotten in those five years and prepare myself to take four entrance exams.  The first year of classes was incredibly hard for me.  Then my first two years in the lab, none of my projects worked.  I quickly learned that the P in Ph.D stood for perseverance.  What kept me going?

  • SELF PERCEPTION – I don’t think of myself as a quitter and I believed I could do this.
  • SOCIAL SUPPORT – I had great support from my family and colleagues.
  • OPTIMISM – When projects didn’t work, I would get frustrated but I viewed it as temporary and part of the process.
  • PASSION – Getting my Ph.D. was very important to me because I knew I needed it to get the kind of job that would challenge me and keep me engaged.

Other components of grit include:

  • WILLPOWER – having self-control over our behavior, emotions and impulses in the face of momentary temptations or diversions
  • RESILIENCE – the ability to bounce back when things get tough
  • GROWTH MINDSET – believing we can improve our talents and abilities with practice and hard work versus thinking our abilities are set

How can you get more GRIT?  

Pay attention to your thoughts and beliefs.  1.) Remind yourself that failure and struggle are just part of the process.  An example I like to use are olympic ice skaters.  Just imagine how many times they fell  before they perfected their routine!  2.)  Manage your negative emotions.  Use the strategies I share in my weekly tips such as exercising, finding distractions, changing your perspective and changing your view of stress.  3.) Build positivity.  Notice and savor the good stuff.  Invest in positive, supportive social relationships.  Practice gratitude.

To see how gritty you are, take the GRIT quiz designed by Angela Duckworth here.


Tina Hallis, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and consultant for The Positive Edge.  She uses science to help people shift the way they think so they can achieve more success in their work and in their lives.  

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