Book Review: Grit: the power of passion and perseverance. Angela Duckworth

Book Review: Grit: the power of passion and perseverance. Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania.
This book is also the subject of a thoughtful TED talk…, “Grit: The power of passion and perseverance.”
I was bought up with the thought, “If at first you don’t succeed; try, try, try again.” I did not release at the time but I was learning to stick at things, to be “gritty”. Why is this important? Many believe that grit is a personal strength that leads to resilience and long term success.
Grit is defined in the Webster dictionary as, “Courage and resolve; strength of character.” That is, gritty people are more likely to continue working hard toward challenging goals. Angela Duckworth finds that “Gritty people” are more likely to succeed academically and professionally. She writes, “… achievement is the product of talent and effort, the latter a function of the intensity, direction, and duration of one’s exertions toward a long term goal.”
In her book, and TED talk, Angela outlines what grit is, how and why grit leads to success and how to encourage development of grit. It’s a useful concept, loved by many. Elizabeth Gilbert author of the best selling book, “Eat, Prey, Love” puts it this way, “Happiness is a consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist on it.” And J.K. Rowling put it, “I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.” Both these successes came after decades of practice. No overnight successes here.
But is this the whole story? I think we must take care. My personal story is that I am successful because I stick to things; however, I am not a secondary teacher because I burned out. Sometimes a strategic retreat is the best thing. Blindly sticking to a dream can be stupid and unhealthy. I like the Law of holes, “When you are in one. Stop digging.”
In New Zealand were encouraged to worship our All Backs. Colin Meads, an All Black Captain, once finished a game with a broken arm. Personally I think that is just stupid. Gritty people are interested in long term success, sometimes that means; stop and reassess the intermediate goal. I am pleased that Angelia does develop this idea in her book, with a chapter on resetting short and intermediate goals but I am not sure if that goes far enough. But I think that sometimes the thing to do is to quit.
There is no sense in beating a dead horse. Balance is always a sensible idea; be gritty, work hard; maybe, even obsessively toward your goals and remember to look after yourself and those you love.
I recommend this book and the TED talk. And I encourage the reader to be ‘gritty’ and to seek balance in your life.

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About sustainabilityandbeauty

My passion is telling the stories of possibility, seeking a sustainable and beautiful future. My training is in science, chemistry, environmental science and teaching.
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