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Grit: "Effort Counts Twice"

Overview - What Will You Get In This Post?

  • What is “grit”.

  • Why it matters.

  • How you can apply it to your life (with action steps).

What’s The Idea?

Grit is the term psychologists use to describe a type of unyielding, long-term perseverance towards our goals.

We don’t stop when the road gets hard, and we persevere through the inevitable hardships that come in our way.

It’s the learnable capacity to keep dedicating ourselves, regardless of how challenging the obstacles and setbacks are.

It’s the will to persist, and repeatedly put in the effort until we get where we want to go. The road to our goals may be short or long, but if we have the grit to persevere, we’re certain to get there no matter what.

This relates to both our general academic success, and our success in a class.

If a subject or material is not coming easy for us, it doesn’t mean we can’t do it. It just means it’s going to take a little bit more effort, and we will need to have the grit to persevere through that

Why Does It Matter?

In Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit, she makes the point that (consistent) effort is two times more important than talent in the path to achievement.

In her words, “After more than a decade thinking about it … I finally published an article in which I lay down two simple equations that explain how you get from talent to achievement … Here they are:

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.

What this theory says is that when you consider individuals in identical circumstances, what each achieves depends on just two things, talent and effort.

Talent—how fast we can improve a skill [or how easy we learn something]—absolutely matters. But effort factors into the calculations twice, not once. Effort builds skill, [and,] at the very same time, effort makes skill productive.”

She also found that willpower and self-discipline outperform IQ in predicting academic success by, again, a factor of two.[1][2]

This means our consistent effort is two times more important than IQ in how well we do in our classes.

Our academic performance has nothing to do with our IQs, but has everything to do with how persistently we work towards our goals.

And the good news? That is 100% in our control.

Action Step:

Similar to growth-mindset, this type of stuff is a bit trickier to apply, but here are 2-3 actions you can take to bring it to your own life:

  1. Rate yourself from 0-10 in a “grit scale” (0 being “quit at first sign something is hard” and 10 being “I never stop until I achieve what I want”).

  2. Write down the top 3 reasons why a goal is important to you and why you shouldn’t quit. It’s crucial to make sure the reasons really matter to you (weak reasons = weak motivation). Then whenever you’re struggling to keep studying, re-read them to boost your motivation.

  3. Optional: practice willpower [link] and have a hopeful-mindset [link].


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