Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

7. Practice

  • It is important to be committed to the notion of continuous improvement. True experts are even though they don’t improve as fast as those not so far along. Here we encounter the concept of deliberate practice. This is where you focus on some aspect that you can not do yet or don’t do well. It may not be fun, but it is essential. You need to set a stretch goal and work towards it. Once you get there, set another stretch goal. Another vital aspect is getting negative feedback from people who know more about the subject than you do. Positive feedback is fine, but it’s more important to find out what you aren’t doing well.
  • Deliberate practice is effortful and tiring. You might need a break after an hour and only be able to do three to five hours a day. Depending on the field, some find deliberate practice more enjoyable than others. A taste for hard work is necessary. The other concept here is flow. This is a state where you are performing at a very high level without great effort. Flow comes after a great deal of deliberate practice. Habits are essential no matter what they are. The idea is to set aside a time each day for effort towards your goal. Infants are constantly trying and failing. In essence, we should be more like babies. Teachers should also point out mistakes they make in order to set an example.

8. Purpose

  • In addition to interest, purpose is another source of passion. It is the intention to contribute to the well-being of others. Of the two, interest usually comes first. As the result of an extensive study, Duckworth found that higher scores on purpose correlate with higher scores on grit. Most gritty people see their ultimate aims deeply connected to the world beyond themselves. While it is possible to be a gritty villain, there are a lot more gritty heroes.
  • Angela include a parable that highlights purpose. The first bricklayer says he is laying bricks. The second says he is building a church. The third says he building the house of God. The first has a job. The second has a career. The third has a calling. Which one are you? People who consider their work to be a calling are much grittier. People who keep both personal and prosocial interests in mind do better in the long run. The key point here is that it is never too late to develop a purpose.

9. Hope

  • When it comes to hope grit rests on the expectation that our own efforts can improve our future. Gritty optimists assume that any setbacks are temporary and that anything can be made better with effort. They are also more likely to press on after failures and setbacks. Optimistic teachers are grittier and happier and tend to get their students to achieve more. It should be no surprise that grit and a growth mindset go together. (See my summary of Mindset by Carol Dweck.) With a growth mindset, you can give yourself optimistic pep talks that will help you persevere.
  • Overcoming adversity, especially when young, bodes well for dealing with adversity later on. One problem for poor children is that they are more likely to face adversity over which they have no control and therefore can’t overcome. Don’t avoid asking for a helping hand. Angela warns that this twenty-page chapter is not likely to change a bad mindset. Some readers may need a therapist.
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