What is grit and how do I get it?

Grit is about holding steadfast to goals that give you meaning. When things become difficult, you might say, “All right, this is really an opportunity for me to grow. And if I hang in there, eventually I can master this.” Grit is about believing your abilities can grow with effort and experience when you would rather quit. It requires both passion and perseverance.

Another way to understand grit is to think about what it isn’t. It isn’t talent, or luck, or just how badly you want something. Those who lack grit tend to believe that abilities can’t be learned—that you’re either born with certain skills and talents, or you’re not. If this is you, when you encounter challenges you might be quick to think, “Well, I guess I’m just not good at this.” And you give up.

The good news is grit can be learned and developed with practice. Practicing grit can involve:

  • developing and deepening your interests.
  • sticking with commitments, even when they’re difficult.
  • not quitting in the middle of a training, mission, or class.
  • revising a procedure to make it better.
  • asking other people for feedback about how you can improve.

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Duckworth, A., & Gross, J. J. (2014). Self-control and grit: Related but separable determinants of success. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(5), 319–325. doi:10.1177/0963721414541462

Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087–1101. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.92.6.1087

Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. T., & Tesch-Römer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological Review, 100(3), 363–406. doi:10.1037/0033-295x.100.3.363