#19 How to Build Your Grit

The 4 Key Scientific Variables

Angela Duckworth created the science of Grit. It’s fascinating. She defines it as intense passion + intense perseverance. In short, you’re REALLY fired up about something and you’re willing to show up every day for however long it takes to make your dream a reality.

She tells us that effort counts twice and offers this equation to capture the essence of grit:

Talent x Effort = Skill
Skill x Effort = Achievement

See how that works? Effort counts twice.

Yes, Talent is important (she defines it as how quickly you can pick up a new skill) but EFFORT is twice as important. You can have a super “talented” “genius” who puts in no effort and what do you get? Nothing, really—just a disappointed genius. Alternatively, you can have a modestly talented individual who H U S T L E S and what do you have? An extraordinary amount of achievement.

So, again, effort counts twice. (Am I repeating myself? Yes.)

(Pretty sure this is what Calvin Coolidge was getting at when he said: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”)

In her great book Grit, Angela walks us through the four things to keep in mind as we deliberately strive to cultivate our Grit: Passion + Practice + Purpose + Hope.

1. Passion: You need to be intrinsically drawn to something. You’re not going to put in the required, sustained effort if you’re only kinda-sorta interested in something or doing it because someone else wants you to do it. (Period.) Having said that, we’re not talking about what Angela calls fireworks passion—the kind that comes and goes. We’re talking about compass passion—the kind that guides your life for decades. (Yours?)

2. Practice: Passion isn’t enough. You need to do the work. Every. Single. Day. Yes: Every. Single. Day. Design your life around your Passion—that’s what gritty people do. (You?)

3. Purpose: If you want mature Passion and sustainable Grit, it can’t be all about you. That six-pack selfie motivation (or you in your Lamborghini in front of your house on the cliffs of a beach) aren’t going to cut it. Make it about something bigger than you. Have a purpose beyond yourself. (What’s yours?)

4. Hope: On the path to Gritty, Heroic greatness, we will bump our heads and fall down. A lot. We need to have Hope. We need to see that the future can be better than our present and we need to believe that we have the power to make it so if we put in the required Effort. (We’ll talk more about the science of Hope in a moment.)

Take a moment and reflect on your most important Life’s Work. Do a quick inventory on those 4 key parameters of Grit and think about how you can Optimize 1% today!