Grit

by

Angela Duckworth

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Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth is an influential American research psychologist who studies grit (which she defines as a combination of passion and perseverance). In Grit, she draws from hundreds of research studies and interviews with high-achievers… read analysis of Angela Duckworth

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon.com. In childhood and adolescence, Bezos spent his free time inventing gadgets and contraptions, and his mother supported him. Duckworth uses Bezos as an example of how… read analysis of Jeff Bezos

Benjamin Bloom

Benjamin Bloom was an influential educational psychologist who remains best known for his theory of learning goals (“Bloom’s Taxonomy”). However, Duckworth cites Bloom’s analysis of high achievers (from the book Developing Talent in Young Peopleread analysis of Benjamin Bloom

Pete Carroll

Pete Carroll is the Seattle Seahawks football team’s head coach. His coaching philosophy is based around identifying and cultivating grit, and Duckworth cites him as an example of how leaders can build successful organizations… read analysis of Pete Carroll

Kat Cole

Kat Cole is an American businesswoman who rose from a waitressing job at Hooter’s to become the company’s executive vice president. Later on, she became the president of Cinnabon. Cole tells Duckworth that she succeeded… read analysis of Kat Cole
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Cody Coleman

Cody Coleman is a computer scientist who, Duckworth argues, overcame poverty and a substandard education to succeed thanks to his grit. Duckworth points out that Coleman developed grit because key adults—including his brother and… read analysis of Cody Coleman

Tom Deierlein

Tom Deierlein is a soldier who was shot in the pelvis on tour in Iraq. Although his doctors said he may never walk again, he dedicated himself to physical therapy, managed to walk, and then… read analysis of Tom Deierlein

Anson Dorrance

Anson Dorrance is the coach of the nationally dominant UNC-Chapel Hill women’s soccer team, which won 21 of the first 31 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championships. Every year, Dorrance gives his players a series of assessments… read analysis of Anson Dorrance

Duckworth’s Father

Angela Duckworth’s father was a chemist who proudly spent more than 30 years working for the chemical company DuPont after migrating from China to the U.S. His ideas about work, passion, and genius are… read analysis of Duckworth’s Father

Anders Ericsson

Anders Ericsson was an internationally renowned Swedish psychologist who studied performance and expertise. Ericsson is best remembered for finding that people generally need to practice something for 10,000 hours over 10 years in order to… read analysis of Anders Ericsson

Jeffrey Gettleman

Jeffrey Gettleman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist who worked in East Africa for many years. Duckworth first met Gettleman when they were both pursuing master’s degrees at the University of Oxford. At… read analysis of Jeffrey Gettleman

Jane Golden

Jane Golden is a Philadelphia-based arts activist who has directed the Mural Arts Program for more than three decades. Despite suffering from chronic pain, she still works tirelessly—often seven days a week—to help local artists… read analysis of Jane Golden

Steve Maier

Steve Maier is a highly influential neuroscientist who studies how the brain reacts to stress. He and Marty Seligman developed the concept of “learned helplessness” through electroshock experiments on dogs in the 1960s. In a… read analysis of Steve Maier

Marty Seligman

Marty Seligman is an influential American psychologist who studies depression, resilience, and optimism. He is widely known for founding the field of positive psychology and discovering the phenomenon of “learned helplessness” alongside Steve Maier in… read analysis of Marty Seligman

Will Shortz

Will Shortz is a famous puzzle-maker who works as the crossword editor for The New York Times. Duckworth explains how Shortz’s mother, a writer and crossword fan, consistently supported his childhood interest in the… read analysis of Will Shortz

Marc Vetri

Marc Vetri is an award-winning Italian American chef from Philadelphia. Duckworth explains how Vetri developed his interest in cooking slowly over time, in part through cooking with his grandmother and in part because he entered… read analysis of Marc Vetri

David Yeager

David Yeager is a developmental psychologist who studies adolescent behavior. Duckworth cites his research showing how students perform better in school when they feel a sense of interest and purpose in their schoolwork, as well… read analysis of David Yeager

Steve Young

Steve Young is the successful former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. Duckworth explores how Young’s strict but supportive parents helped him develop grit, work through his childhood anxiety, and succeed in sports. She… read analysis of Steve Young
Minor Characters
Dan Chambliss
Dan Chambliss is an award-winning sociologist. While he primarily studies higher education, he also researched competitive swimming for many years, and Duckworth cites this work to explain how athletic success depends on grit.
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates is an award-winning American writer and recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant.” Duckworth concludes Grit by citing Coates’s comment that learning to fail effectively is the key to successful writing.
Bill Damon
Bill Damon is an influential Stanford psychologist who studies how people develop a sense of purpose in their lives.
Lucy Duckworth
Lucy is Angela Duckworth’s daughter. Duckworth uses episodes from Lucy’s childhood to illustrate key principles about how young people develop grit.
Carol Dweck
Carol Dweck is a pioneering psychologist who is widely known for her research on implicit theories of intelligence—and specifically the difference between fixed and growth mindsets. Based on Dweck’s research, Duckworth argues that adopting a growth mindset is one of the best ways to develop grit.
Robert Eisenberger
Robert Eisenberger is an organizational psychologist who has found that children (and rats) can learn to value hard work if they’re presented with appropriate challenges. Duckworth cites Eisenberger’s research to argue that children can build grit by joining interesting but challenging extracurricular activities.
Bill Fitzsimmons
Bill Fitzsimmons is Harvard University’s long-serving admissions dean. He tells Duckworth that grit and achievement in extracurricular activities play an important role in admissions decisions because these qualities predict students’ long-term success.
Rowdy Gaines
Rowdy Gaines is a three-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer. Duckworth cites his experimentation with different sports to illustrate how people discover their passion and his rigorous training routine to illustrate the importance of deliberate practice.
John Irving
John Irving is a bestselling novelist who has succeeded despite his severe dyslexia. Duckworth uses Irving as an example of how grit is more important for success than talent.
Hester Lacey
Hester Lacey is a British journalist who has interviewed hundreds of highly successful people for her column in the Financial Times. Duckworth frequently cites Lacey’s insights from these interviews in order to corroborate her own research findings about grit and success.
Katie Ledecky
Katie Ledecky is the most successful female swimmer in world history. Duckworth cites examples from Ledecky’s career to illustrate the concepts of flow and deliberate practice.
Warren MacKenzie
Warren MacKenzie was an internationally recognized American potter. Duckworth uses MacKenzie’s art to demonstrate why “effort counts twice”—meaning that grit is the key to both building and applying skills.
Bob Mankoff
Bob Mankoff is a cartoonist who served as The New Yorker’s longtime cartoon editor. Duckworth cites Mankoff’s stubborn, years-long effort to get his first cartoon published as an example of why the perseverance involved in grit is crucial to long-term success.
Francesca Martinez
Francesca Martinez is a British comedian who has built a highly successful career despite suffering from cerebral palsy. Duckworth cites Martinez’s loving parents—and compares them to Steve Young’s—in order to illustrate why supportive, demanding parents help their children develop grit.
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche was an influential 19th-century German philosopher. Duckworth cites Nietzsche’s writings on expertise and genius to support her thesis that success depends more on grit than talent.
Chia-Jung Tsay
Chia-Jung Tsay is a business professor, organizational psychologist, and accomplished classical pianist who studies “naturalness bias”—or the common preference for attributing success to natural talent (genius) over hard work (grit). Duckworth also cites Tsay’s life to illustrate how grit leads to success.
Warren Willingham
Warren Willingham was a psychologist who worked for the standardized test company Educational Testing Service. He conducted a massive study to see which personality traits best determined high school students’ success in college. He found that follow-through—which Duckworth compares to grit—was the greatest predictor of academic and career success.
Amy Wrzesniewski
Amy Wrzesniewski is an organizational psychologist who studies how people find a sense of meaning and purpose in their work. She argues that whether people feel that their work is a job, a career, or a calling depends primarily on their individual values and perspectives.