What Is Grit?

Raise your hand if you want your kids to be successful in life. We all do. Now keep your hand up if you are certain you know the best way to go about it. That’s what I thought…

Popularized by research psychologist Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania, grit has been defined as a combination of passion and perseverance to accomplish big goals. Talent alone does not make you successful. When scientists look at predictors of success, they rule out things like good looks, physical health, and even intelligence. The best predictor we’ve found for success is the presence of grit. Simply put, grit is the key ingredient for success in life.

The question is – How do we make kids gritty? In her TED Talk, Duckworth remarks that she is asked questions like this every day. “The honest answer is, I don’t know,” she admits, but suggests that growth mindset is a promising start. Duckworth ends her talk with a call, a challenge of sorts, for us to put our best ideas into action. To come up with ways to try to build grit in kids. To measure our effectiveness. To get gritty about making kids gritty.

The Grit Project is answering that call.

We’ve built our definition of grit around three central building blocks. The first is Growth Mindset which was introduced by Carol Dweck at Stanford University. Growth mindset is the belief that your abilities are not set in stone. In essence, if you keep practicing something, you will get better at it. We teach kids how to reframe their thoughts to create growth mindsets.

Our second building block is Goal Directedness. Learning how to set long-term goals and knowing how to break them down into mini-goals is a skill. Tapping into your internal drive and motivation to keep working towards goals is a skill. Being able to bounce back from a temporary failure, embracing and learning from mistakes are skills. And we are teaching all of these.

Our third building block is Interpersonal Effectiveness (EQ). Having good interpersonal skills means that you first understand yourself. You know your own strengths and areas for improvement. You also have the skills to understand and work well with others. We believe you can’t go far alone. Big accomplishments often require many people working together. We teach kids how to do it.

We’re excited to put ourselves out there and share our grit-building programs with the world. Together, let’s make our kids gritty.


About GritDavid Olson