By: Peer Career Coach Zahra Khuwaja

I recently picked up a book called ‘Grit: The power of passion and perseverance’ by Angela Duckworth and it is literally one of the best books I have ever read. Duckworth is a consultant turned psychologist and researcher. In her book she explores several concepts in her book, the major one being that of grit. She defines grit to be a combination of passion and sustained persistence applied toward long-term achievement, with no particular concern for rewards or recognition along the way. Grit is about holding the same top-level goal for a very long time. She proceeds to highlight four psychological assets that paragons of grit have demonstrated over the years. They are the following:

  1. Interest: Passion begins with intrinsically enjoying what you do.
  2. Practice: Once form of perseverance is the daily discipline of trying to do things better than we did yesterday. After developing and identifying our interests in a certain area, it is important to devote our time, focus and energy in practicing those interests. This will eventually lead to full mastery. In order to fully achieve this, one must zero in on their weakness and keep in mind that to be gritty is to resist complacency.
  3. Purpose: In order to feed your passion, it is, in most situations, important to attach it to some sort of conviction that what you are doing truly matters. It is important that you identify your work as both personally interesting at the same time integrally connected to the well-being of others.
  4. Hope: It is important to persist from beginning to end in this entire process, and hope is what carries one through it.

Many of us are full-time college students and don’t necessarily know what exactly our passion is to begin with. Duckworth talks about the process of discovering and fostering a passion and gives the following advice:

  • Ask yourself a few simply questions:
    • What do I like to think about?
    • Where does my mind wander?
    • What do I really care about?
    • What matters most to me?
    • How do I enjoy spending my time?
    • What do I find absolutely unbearable?

Once you have a general direction in your mind, work on triggering your nascent interests.Being with the answers you are sure of and build it from there. The entire process is that of trial and error so don’t be afraid to guess your passion! The next step would be to deliberately practice your interest and passion. The following general ideas will help you do just that:

  • Having a clearly defined stretch goal
  • Full concentration and effort
  • Immediate and informative feedback
  • Repetition with reflection and refinement

In terms of addressing the ‘hope’ aspect of grit, Duckworth’s three suggestion in that regard are:

  • Update your beliefs about intelligence and talent
  • Practice optimistic self-talk
  • Ask for a helping hand

Here’s a short quiz to rate yourself on the grit scale; check it out!


What is Grit & Why Does It Matter