In her TED Talk, Angela explains that, “the one thing we know how to measure best in education is IQ. But what if doing well in school and in life, depends on much more than learning quickly and easily?”
What Angela was referring to – and is now a world-expert in - is grit. Grit is a combination of passion and persistence towards a long-term goal, with no particular concern for rewards or recognition along the way.
It combines resilience, ambition, and self-control, treating life like a marathon rather than a sprint. “Grit is having stamina, and sticking with your future, day in and day out, not just for the week or month, and working really hard to make that future a reality.”
Angela left her teaching job and went to graduate school to become a psychologist. She studied children and adults in all kinds of settings: personnel in a military academy; competitors, parents and judges at the National Spelling Bee and teachers and their pupils in schools in tough neighbourhoods. In every setting, she asked the same question: Who is successful here, and why?
Across all of the contexts Angela studied these people in, the one characteristic that emerged as a significant predictor of success was grit! Indeed, grit, not IQ, but sheer determination and tenacity.
Following this, Angela Duckworth started studying grit in Chicago public schools. She asked thousands of high school students to take grit questionnaires, and then waited around more than a year to find out who would graduate. She found that the ‘grittier’ students were, the more likely they were to graduate. Even when matched on every other factor (variable) like SAT scores, family income, and even how safe they felt when they were at school, grit proved to be the winning point.