Book: Duckworth on Grit – the power of passion and perseverance

Duckworth A (2016): GRIT: The power of passion and perseverance. NY,NY: Simon & Schuster, Scribner.

Part I: What grit is and why it matters

Chapter 1: Showing up

“Some people are great when things are going well, but they fall apart when things aren’t.” p. 7

“… in a very real sense, they were satisfied with being unsatisfied. Each was chasing something of unparalleled interest and importance, and it was the chase – as much as the capture – that was gratifying…  First, these exemplars were unusually resilient and hardworking.  Second, they knew in a very, very deep way what it was they wanted.  They not only had determination, they had direction.  It was this combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special. In a word, they had grit.” p. 8

Chapter 2: Distracted by talent

“And, as a teacher, wasn’t it my responsibility to figure out how to sustain effort – both the students’ and my own – just a bit longer?  At the same time, I began to reflect on how smart even my weakest students sounded when they talked about things that genuinely interested them.” p. 17

“… wrote [Charles Darwin].  ‘For I have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work; and I still think this is an eminently important difference.'” p. 21

“… [William James] acknowledged… ‘The plain fact remains that men the world over possess amounts of resource, which only very exceptional individuals push to their extremes of use.”

Chapter 3: Effort counts twice

“Talent x effort = skill; skill x effort = achievement; Talent is how  quickly your skills improve when you invest effort.  Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and use them.  Of course, your opportunities – for example, have a great coach or teacher – matter tremendously too, and maybe more than anything about the individual. My theory does not include these outside forces,nor does it include luck.” p. 42

Chapter 4: How gritty are you?

“…grit is more about stamina than intensity…  Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it… Grit has two components: passion and perseverance… Enthusiasm is common.  Endurance is rare.” p. 53-56

“A clear, well-defined philosophy gives you guidelines and boundaries that keep you on track.” p. 62

“Warren Buffett… simple three-step process for prioritizing… First, write down a list of twenty-five career goals.  Second, you do some soul-searching and circle the five highest-priority goals. Just five. Third, you take a hard look at the twenty goals you didn’t circle. These you avoid at all costs. They’re what distract you; they eat away at your time and energy, taking your eye from the goals that matter more.” p. 66

“A successful person has to decide what to do in part by deciding what not to do.” p. 67

“However, the higher-level the goal, the more it makes sense to be stubborn.” p. 74

Chapter 5: Grit grows

“Flynn called this virtuous cycle of skill improvement the social multiplier effect, and he used the same logic to explain generational changes in abstract reasoning.” p. 84

“… grit grows as we figure out our life philosophy, learn to tell the difference between low-level goals that should be abandoned quickly and higher-levelgoals that demand more tenacity… ‘the maturity principle.'” p. 86

“It illustrates the maturity principle to a T.” p. 88

Part II: Growing Grit From The Inside Out

Chapter 6: Interest

“…passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.” p. 103

Chapter 7: Practice

“… grit is not just about quantity of time devoted to interests, but also quality of time. Not just more time on task, but also better time on task.” p. 118

“The really crucial insight of Ericsson’s research, though, is not that experts log more hours of practice.  Rather, it’s that experts practice differently.  Unlike most of us, experts are logging thousands upon thousands of hours of what Ericsson calls deliberate practice.” p. 120.

“Gritty people do more deliberate practice and experience more flow.  There’s no contradiction here, for two reasons.  First, deliberate practice is a behavior, and flow is an experience.  Anders Ericsson is talking about what experts do; Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is talk about how experts feel.  Second, you don’t have to be doing deliberate practice and experience flow at the same time…  In other words, deliberate practice is for preparation, and flow is for performance.” p. 131-132

“Nobody want to show you the hours and hours of becoming.  They’d rather show the highlight of what they’ve become.” p. 135

Chapter 8 Purpose

“Interest is one source of passion. Purpose – the intention to contribute to the well-being of others – is another.  The mature passions of gritty people depend on both.” p. 143 [JCS: I think “service” is a better word than “purpose” in the above.]

“It seemed possible that single-minded focus on a top-level goal is, in fact, typically more selfish than selfless.” p. 146

“On the other hand, human beings have evolved to seek meaning and purpose. In the most profound way, we’re social creatures. Why? Because the drive to connect with and serve others also promotes survival.  How? Because people who cooperate are more likely to survive than loners.  Society depends on stable interpersonal relationships, and society in so many ways keeps us fed, shelters us from the elements, and protects us from enemies.  The desire to connect is as basic a human need as our appetite for pleasure.  To some extent, we’re all hardwired to pursue both hedonic and eudaimonic happiness.  But the relative weight we give these two kinds of pursuits can vary.” p. 147

“Consider the parable of the bricklayers: Three bricklayers are asked: ‘What are you doing?’ The first says, ‘I am laying bricks.’  The second says, ‘I am building a church.’  The third says, ‘I am building the house of God.’ The first bricklayer has a job.  The second has a career. The third has a calling.” p. 149

Chapter 9 Hope

“Cognitive behavioral therapy – which aims to treat depression and other psychological maladies by helping patients think more objectively and behave in healthier ways – has shown that, whatever our childhood sufferings, we can generally learn to observe our negative self-talk and change our maladaptive behaviors.  As with any other skill, we can practice interpreting what happens to us and responding as an optimist would.” p. 176

“In sharp contrast, children in the attribution retraining program tried harder after encountering difficulty.  It seems as though they’d lerned to interpret failure as a cue to try harder rather than as confirmation that they lacked the ability to succeed…   She [Carol Dweck] soon discovered that people of all ages carry around in their minds private theories about how the world works… Carol would say you have more of a fixed mindset.  If you had the opposite reaction, then Carol would say you tend toward growth mindset…. where our mindsets come from… point to people’s personal histories of success and failure, and how the people around them, particularly those in a position of authority, have responded to these outcomes.” p. 179-181

“Undermines growth mindset and grit vs Promotes growth mindset and grit:  ‘You’re a natural! I love that.’ vs ‘You’re a learner! I love that.’; ‘Well, at least you tried.’ vs ‘That didn’t work.  Let’s talk about how you can approach it and what might work better.’; ‘Great job! You’re so talented!’ vs ‘Great job! What’s one thing that could have been even better?’; ‘This is hard.  Don’t feel bad if you can’t do it.’ vs ‘This is hard.  Don’t feel bad if you can’t do it yet.’; ‘Maybe this just isn’t uour strength.  Don’t worry – you have other things to contribute.’ vs ‘I have high standards. I’m holding you to them because I know we can reach them together.'” Language is one way to cultivate hope.” p. 182

“growth mindset -> optimistic self-talk -> perseverance over adversity” p. 192

Part III: Growing Grit From The Outside In

Chapter 10: Parenting for grit

“So which is it? Is grit forged in the crucible of unrelentingly high standards or is it nutured in the warm embrace of loving support?” p. 201

“2×2 of Supportive vs Unsupportive; Undemanding vs Demanding: Permissive parenting; Wise parenting; Neglectful parenting; Authoritarian parenting.” p. 212

“If you want to bring forth grit in your child, first ask how much passion and perseverance you have for your own life goals.  Then ask yourself how likely your approach to parenting encourages your child to emulate you.  If your answer to the first question is ‘a great deal,’ and your answer to the second question is ‘very likely,’ then you’re already parenting for grit.” p. 216

“This pattern kept on repeating itself … [my mentor] some how knew the extent of my comfort zone and manufactured situations which were slightly outside it.  I overcame them through trial and error, through doing… I succeeded.” p. 217

Chapter 11: The playing fields of grit

“Second, these pursuits are designed to cultivate interest, practice, purpose, and hope.” p. 223

“One horse did win, and by a long stretch: follow-through…  The key was that students had signed up for something, signed up again the following year, and during the time had made some kind of progress.” p. 228-229

Chapter 12: A culture of grit

“James March, an expert on decision making at Stanford University, explains the difference this way: Sometimes, we revert to cost-benefit analyses to make choices… But other times, March says, we don’t think through the consequences of our actions at all… Instead, we ask ourselves: Who am I? What is this situation? What does someone like me do in a situation like this?” p. 248

“Sisu: A word that explains Finland – A typical Finn is an obstinate sort of fellow who believes in getting the better of bad fortune by proving he can stand worse.” p. 251

Chapter 13: Conclusion

“This book is about the power of grit to help you achieve your potential.” p. 269

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