Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals. One way to think about grit is to consider what grit is not. Grit is not talent. Grit is not luck. Grit is not how intensely, for the moment, you want something.
Instead, grit is about having an “ultimate concern”–a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when things go wrong. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.
Why does grit matter?
Excellence sometimes seems like the result of natural talent. But no matter how gifted you are—no matter how easily you climb up the learning curve—you do need to do that climbing. There are no shortcuts. Grit predicts accomplishing challenging goals of personal significance.
To gauge your current level of grit, consider how true the following are for you.
I enjoy projects that take years to complete.
I am working towards a very long-term goal.
What I do each day is connected to my deepest personal values.
There is at least one subject or activity that I never get bored of thinking about.
Setbacks do not discourage me for long.
I am a hard worker.
I finish whatever I begin.
I never stop working to improve.
How do I encourage grit in others?
Model it. If you love what you do, let others know. Wear your passion on your sleeve. When you fail, openly share your frustration but go out of your way to point out what you learned from the experience. Emphasize playing the long game—life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Celebrate it. When you see grit, draw attention to it: “Your work this past term has demonstrated enormous dedication. I know it wasn’t always easy.”
Praise passion: “You’re so into this! That’s just awesome!”
Enable it. The paradox of grit is that the steely determination of individuals is made possible by the warmth and support of friends, families, teachers, and mentors. Do not let people you love quit on a bad day.