My review of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

By Julia Casey, Center for Economic Development Entrepreneurial Specialist


TL:DR - Your mommy thinks you’re special, smart, pretty, etc, but life thinks you should get to work.

If you’re lazy like me, you should probably read Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. If you’re a little lazier than me, here are my key takeaways.

Why are you telling me this?: Mostly, I have a deep-seated fear that at the end of my life I will look back and realize I never really did anything. Therefore, I am interested in ways to make that not happen. Maybe, I am the only one that feels that way. In that case, this post is not going to get any reads.

Grit Matters More: Duckworth studied those who make it through West Point, become spelling bee champions, and swim in the Olympics. She found the underlying factor to success in all of these arenas to be talent+grit, but grit mattered more.

What the heck is grit?: Duckworth defines grit as passion+perseverance. You need to care about something a lot and create a habit of working towards your passion.

I care so little: As a recent college graduate and young professional, people tell me all the time to do what I am passionate about. I am not really that passionate. I assumed at some point I would just try something and all of a sudden be crazy passionate. Duckworth talks about this misconception. While some people do find consuming interests early, most of us need to work to find our passion.  Duckworth has some practical advice for those with “fleeting interest in everything”. She advises to get out of your head and do things in the real world. Discover what you gravitate toward naturally. Then, develop that interest. You will naturally want some level of novelty again. Instead, “deepen your interest”. As you continue to go through this process. You will start to narrow your interests. Look for purpose as you narrow. Move towards the interests where you can clearly define a greater purpose to your community, world, etc.

I am so lazy: Perseverance is also something to work on. Define your goals. Create habits. Find people and cultures that keep you in check. Most of all perseverance is getting back up every time you fail -- which is why pursuing passions that have a clear purpose for you is important.

Other things: Duckworth also has advice for parenting, teaching, and leading for cultures of Grit.

#StartupLife: The Alaska: State of Entrepreneurship Report uncovered that most founders are in the 40’s or 50’s and have worked extensively in the field that they are starting their business.  They chose their passion and stuck with it. The report also found that the vast majority of founders with a current business have started at least one other business.

If you want to read the book, buy it at a local bookstore or come visit my office. You can borrow my copy.