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Book Summary — Grit

The Power of Passion and Perseverance

The notion of Grit is covered in a large number of books by different names — it has similarity with a Growth Mindset and with what Kahneman and Tversky researched. The book itself is probably a bit too long for the handful of principles it covers, but it does give great examples.

My 1 paragraph summary:

Grit is predictive of future success. Through effort (deliberate practice) we can excel in whatever we put our mind to — usually something we are interested or find purpose in. A sense of achievement, progress and surrounding ourselves with ambitious people who push us makes being grittier easier.

Why Grit and why it matters?

They not only had determination, they had direction. It was the combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special. In a word, they had grit.

Each was chasing something of unparalleled interest and importance, and it was the chase — as much as the capture — that was gratifying.

Keeping going after failing — keep standing up — is critical for high achievements

When we look at someone who “has achieved it”, we try to reason why — they are smarter, taller, faster, etc etc → what it really is, is a huge number of mundane acts → practice over and over again

To call someone ‘divine’ [or genius] means “here there is no need to compete.” In other words, mythologizing natural talent lets us all of the hook. It lets us relax into the status quo.

Talent x Effort = Skill

Skill x Effort = Achievement


Without effort, your talent is nothing more than your unmet potential. Without effort, your skill is nothing more than what you could have done but didn’t.

With effort, talents becomes skill and, at the every same time, effort makes skill productive.

Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it.

Passion as a compass — that thing that takes you some time to build, tinker with, and finally get right, and that then guides you on your long and winding road to where, ultimately, you want to be.

The older we get the grittier we become — we learn through experience.

Growing Grit from the Inside Out

through interest or purpose

Interests are not discovered through introspection. Instead, interests are triggered by interactions with the outside world. The process of interest discovery can be messy, serendipitous and inefficient.

Before hard work comes play. → kids must first goof around, trigger and retrigger interests

Novices are not obsessed with getting better — they first need to experience things in a playful scenario

A couple of questions to help you find your interests

  • 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?
  • And, in contrast, what do I find absolutely unbearable?

Keep setting yourself stretch goals.

Gritty people do more deliberate practice and experience more flow.

Deliberate practice is for preparation and flow is for performance/

Deliberate practice requirements

  • Clearly defined stretch goal
  • Full concentration and effort
  • Immediate and informative feedback
  • Repetition with reflection and refinement

Ideally — Make it a Habit

Change the way you experience it — change the way you do it and think about it

Purpose is the other way to be gritty — when efforts pay dividends to other people

Thought Exercise

  • Reflect on how the work you’re doing can make a positive contribution to society
  • How can you make your current work enhance its connection to your core values
  • Find inspiration in a purposeful role model

Growing Grit from the Outside In

Surround yourself with ambitious people

One thing that makes you better is playing with kids who are just a little more skilled, it’s a virtuous cycle of skill improvement — a social multiplier.

Parents, teachers and coaches can help

How to Parent?

Selfless, tough love → wanting the best for the child

There is no either/or trade-off between supportive and demanding parenting → you can do both

Extra-curricular activities — let them pick but follow through for at least 1–2 years → something hard/difficult so they show progress over time

Hard Things Rules

  1. Do a hard thing every day — deliberate practice
  2. You can quit — but only if there is a natural ending (season end, etc), not because it became hard
  3. You get to pick your hard thing — pick something you like
  4. Commit to it for 2 years

Is Grit all that matters?

There are three overarching virtues:

  1. Intrapersonal — Will — Grit — self-control — resume virtues — performance character
  2. Interpersonal — Heart — Gratitude — Social intelligence — help with other people — Moral character
  3. Intellectual — Mind — Curiosity and Zest — Open to the world — learning

To be gritty is to hold fast to an interesting and purposeful goal. To be gritty is to invest, day after week after year, in challenging practice. To be gritty is to fall down seven times and rise eight.



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