Angela Duckworth

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Compass Symbol Icon

Andrea Duckworth compares passion to a compass in order to explain how, when it comes to setting goals, consistency is more important than intensity. A more popular metaphor for passion is fireworks, but Duckworth argues that fireworks burst and then fizzle out, whereas a compass consistently guides people in the right direction over time. Similarly, she argues, people who consistently pursue specific long-term goals are more likely to succeed than people who intensely pursue their short-term desires. Specifically, high-grit people understand how their different goals fit together into a hierarchy, with their less important goals serving to help them reach their ultimate, highest-level goal. (For instance, Duckworth’s ultimate goal is: “use psychological science to help young people thrive.”) Passion is like a compass because gritty people’s passions—their ultimate goals—consistently guide all of their life decisions.

Compass Quotes in Grit

The Grit quotes below all refer to the symbol of Compass. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of Grit published in 2018.
Chapter 4: How Gritty Are You? Quotes

The common metaphor of passion as fireworks doesn’t make sense when you think of what passion means to Jeff Gettleman. Fireworks erupt in a blaze of glory but quickly fizzle, leaving just wisps of smoke and a memory of what was once spectacular. What Jeff’s journey suggests instead is passion as a compass—that thing that takes you some time to build, tinker with, and finally get right, and that then guides you on your long and winding road to where, ultimately, you want to be.

Related Characters: Angela Duckworth (speaker), Jeffrey Gettleman
Related Symbols: Compass
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:
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Compass Symbol Timeline in Grit

The timeline below shows where the symbol Compass appears in Grit. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4: How Gritty Are You?
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon
...succeeded. Gettleman’s story shows that passion is less like fireworks (which fizzle out), than a compass (which consistently guides people in the right direction). (full context)
Passion, Perseverance, and Success Theme Icon anything: they’re ends in and of themselves. These final goals are like a guiding compass or a life philosophy. For instance, baseball pitcher Tom Seaver’s highest-level goal was to pitch... (full context)