The Power of Grit: Cultivating Perseverance for Success

When it comes to personal or academic success, we often hear that talent followed by intelligence are the number one determinants of an individual's eventual achievements in life. But research by psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth has illuminated a second, more important predictor of success: Grit.

In this article I will discuss: what exactly grit is, why it matters in an educational context for students and teachers to have, how we can help cultivate some of that his vital quality into our student population.

What is Grit?

Grit, as defined by Angela Lee Duckworth, is the combination of passion and perseverance for long-term goals. It’s the ability to maintain interest and effort in pursuing objectives over extended periods, despite challenges, failures, and plateaus in progress. Grit isn’t about short-term intensity, but rather about having the endurance to stick with your future day in and day out.

In layman’s terms, grit can be described as:

  1. The “stick-to-it-iveness” that keeps you going when things get tough
  2. The determination to keep working towards your goals, even when progress is slow or setbacks occur
  3. The resilience to bounce back from failures and learn from them
  4. The passion that fuels long-term commitment to your interests and ambitions

Grit goes beyond mere stubbornness or persistence. It involves a deep commitment to one’s goals and the resilience to overcome obstacles. Gritty individuals don’t just work hard; they work hard on the right things, maintaining focus on their long-term objectives.

The Importance of Grit

Why does grit matter so much for success? Research has shown that grit is often a better predictor of achievement than IQ or talent alone. Here’s why:

  1. Overcoming Challenges: Life is full of obstacles, and success rarely comes easily. Gritty individuals are better equipped to face these challenges head-on, seeing them as opportunities for growth rather than insurmountable barriers.
  2. Continuous Improvement: Grit fuels the drive for continuous learning and improvement. Gritty students are more likely to put in the extra hours of practice and study needed to master complex skills and knowledge.
  3. Resilience in the Face of Failure: Failure is an inevitable part of any learning process. Gritty individuals are less likely to be discouraged by failure, instead viewing it as a stepping stone to success.
  4. Long-term Goal Achievement: Many worthwhile goals require sustained effort over long periods. Grit provides the stamina needed to pursue these long-term objectives, even when immediate rewards are not apparent.
  5. Adaptability: Gritty individuals are often more adaptable, able to adjust their strategies while maintaining their overall goals. This flexibility is crucial in our rapidly changing world.

In educational settings, grit can be the difference between a student who gives up when faced with a difficult subject and one who perseveres until they master it. It’s the quality that turns potential into achievement and dreams into reality.

Fostering Grit in Students

While some individuals may naturally possess more grit than others, the good news is that grit can be developed and nurtured. Here are some strategies educators and parents can use to foster grit in students:

  1. Emphasize Growth Mindset: Teach students that abilities can be developed through effort. Praise the process (hard work, strategies, focus) rather than innate talent or intelligence.
  2. Set Long-term Goals: Help students identify meaningful, long-term goals. Break these down into smaller, manageable steps to provide a clear path forward.
  3. Encourage Deliberate Practice: Teach students the value of focused, purposeful practice in developing skills. Help them understand that mastery takes time and effort.
  4. Model Perseverance: Share stories of your own challenges and how you overcame them. Highlight historical figures or contemporary role models who demonstrated grit.
  5. Create a Supportive Environment: Foster a classroom culture where effort is valued and mistakes are seen as learning opportunities. Encourage students to support and motivate each other.
  6. Teach Emotional Regulation: Help students develop strategies to manage frustration, anxiety, and other emotions that might hinder perseverance.
  7. Provide Constructive Feedback: Offer specific, actionable feedback that focuses on effort and strategy rather than just outcomes.
  8. Encourage Extracurricular Commitments: Support students in pursuing long-term extracurricular activities that align with their interests, providing opportunities to develop passion and perseverance.
  9. Discuss the Purpose of Learning: Help students connect their current efforts to their future goals, emphasizing the relevance of what they’re learning.
  10. Celebrate Effort and Progress: Recognize and celebrate not just achievements, but also the effort and progress students make along the way.

Measuring Grit

Assessing grit can be challenging, as it’s not as straightforward as measuring academic performance or IQ. However, there are several ways to gauge and track grit in educational settings:

  1. Self-assessment Scales: Angela Lee Duckworth developed a Grit Scale, a self-report questionnaire that measures an individual’s level of grit. While not perfect, it can provide insights into a student’s perseverance and passion for long-term goals.
  2. Behavioral Observations: Teachers can observe and document behaviors that demonstrate grit, such as:
    • Persistence in the face of challenges
    • Willingness to revise and improve work
    • Consistent effort over time, even when progress is slow
  3. Goal Completion Rates: Track how often students complete long-term projects or achieve goals they’ve set for themselves.
  4. Improvement Over Time: Monitor progress in challenging areas over extended periods, noting improvements that result from sustained effort.
  5. Reflection Journals: Encourage students to keep journals where they reflect on their goals, challenges, and strategies for overcoming obstacles.
  6. Peer and Self Evaluations: Incorporate peer assessments and self-evaluations that focus on effort, perseverance, and passion in group projects or individual assignments.
  7. Portfolio Assessments: Use portfolios that showcase not just final products, but also the process of learning and improvement over time.
  8. Extracurricular Commitment: Consider the length and depth of students’ commitment to extracurricular activities as an indicator of their ability to pursue long-term interests.

It’s important to note that measuring grit should be done carefully and in conjunction with other assessments. The goal is not to label students as “gritty” or “not gritty,” but to help them develop this important quality over time.


Grit is not a magic solution to all educational challenges, but it is a powerful factor in student success. By understanding grit, fostering it in our students, and finding ways to measure and encourage its development, we can help prepare young people not just for academic success, but for the challenges and opportunities they will face throughout their lives.

As educators, parents, and mentors, we have the opportunity to nurture grit in the next generation. By doing so, we equip them with a valuable tool that will serve them well beyond their school years, enabling them to pursue their passions, overcome obstacles, and achieve their long-term goals.

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