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 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.