Written by Angela Duckworth
I really, really loved this book. I put it down for almost a week and worried that it meant I didn’t have the grit to finish it. I do have a habit of talking myself out of wanting to finish “smart” books, no matter how much I’m enjoying it. But when I did pick it back up, I realized I actually just didn’t want it to be over.
I’ve read a number of reviews that talked about how this book wasn’t intellectual enough, and accused Duckworth of selling out in order to market a best seller to the masses. I think that’s an unfair assessment and I’ll tell you why.
Duckworth argues that talent is not the defining indicator of success that we believe. She breaks down significant research and long running studies into digestible chunks. I, for one, don’t care to read pages of statistics. I’m not a scientist. What I want to read is what the reams of data tell us. I don’t think that makes me silly or shallow like so many “intellectual” reviewers believe. In fact, in my real life, I work in corporate learning & development. My life revolves around figuring out how to help people change – change their thinking, grow their knowledge, change their behavior.
I loved that this book gave solid arguments for why “grit” is the defining characteristic of success. Once I was hooked, Duckworth then laid solid examples and recommendations for finding your passion and increasing your grit. She believes that you can find the thing that matters most in the world and, through work and determination, accomplish it.
I think what people are missing about that message is that she never promises that you’ll become the next Heisman Trophy winner, a US Senator, or a rock star. She does acknowledge that talent counts. She just argues that grit is more important. She provides a convincing argument for the moderately talented, hard-working, dedicated person out-achieving the extremely talented performer who doesn’t put in comparable time and effort. It wasn’t a hard sell. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.
The other thing that people miss is that she doesn’t judge goals and successes. She talks about high-level goals versus the low-level goals that are the stepping stones towards them. But she never belittles anyone’s achievements. The point is to find what makes you happy, and make it happen.
If I had to sum this book up in one word, it is “inspiring”. I was inspired by her stories of becoming a better mom. I was inspired by the story of Jeff Bezos’ mother listening even when she didn’t understand him. I was inspired by Pete Carroll’s concept of what it means to compete. I was inspired by the difficult and fundamental changes being made at West Point. I was inspired to define my fitness goals and revise my nutrition goals to support them. I was inspired to take a step back at work and define a plan to become the leader and contributor that I want to be. And I believe this journey will make me a better person.
Will this book help you? Will it change you? I think it could.