grit book review

Grit. The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Is grittiness the key to our success?

This is a great business book and is a perfect read for when you are thinking about setting up your own business. It reminds you that talent is only a small part of success and that what really makes a difference is grit. Grit is the continual effort and practice to become an expert. Grit is combining your natural talent with hard work and practice to create success.

Who is this book for?

This is a book for everyone. There aren’t that many titles where I believe that a book has a universal message but I think that this is one. It is great for teachers as it helps you to understand your students in new ways. To see that the ones with the most natural talent may not actually be the ones that have the highest potential for performance.

Similarly, if you are a parent then this book is perfect. It shows the value of getting your child to commit to an activity. Not just for a few weeks, but for a whole year. Why a year? Because they will have to continue to learn when it is difficult, when they don’t want to and they will understand the value of commitment. A year also gives them time to get over the hurdles, so to speak, and improve. So they will understand that there is the reward of improvement at the end.

As I mentioned in the introduction this business book incredibly valuable when reading it as an owner/ entrepreneur. Whilst I certainly took messages away as a parent, I felt that it spoke more to me within this context. This is because the feeling of quitting is so strong when you are on your own and running your own company. If you’ve ever felt like this then there is a great Medium post here from John Westenberg. So I’d been fighting with this emotion of it being tough and no one understanding and basically feeling sorry for myself. Then I read Grit. I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I had a choice, I had control, I would be ‘gritty’. The book is written with the objective of showing the reader what they can achieve when they remove barriers. I found it inspirational.

If you’ve found anything in life difficult, or your find yourself looking at the success of others with jealousy then this is a great read. It is a great reminder that success comes with practice, and not just any practice, deliberate practice. It has given me a good push to think about deliberate practice within my own role and how I might apply it.

What were the 3 key takeaways?

1. Success is hard work

2. Focus on goals

3. We all have the potential to be successful

Any bad bits?

I would like to find a flaw for the purpose of balance, but I can’t. I really enjoyed the balance of research and human narrative. What I found refreshing in this business book were Angela’s own tales of frustration, the tears when negative comments were received and the sheer determination that came out the other side. It reminded me of the times that I have been equally determined and achieved something. Conversely, it also served to remind me of the times that I stopped trying and failed. I will read this book again and think that a second reading might throw up more questions and a more detailed critique.

As much as I enjoyed this book I feel that it important to include some of the negative sentiments that others have had:

“At one point, Duckworth tells the story of a waitress who rolled up her sleeves and learned to work every job in the restaurant as needed and got promoted to general manager of the restaurant and now runs a Fortune 500 company. I can tell another story, where a waitress learned to work every job in the restaurant, but management gave the general manager job to the son of the regional vice president. Or the economy went south and the restaurant closed. Or she couldn’t give the job anywhere near 100% because her child developed cancer. Or any of the multitude of shitty things that happen in life that are totally beyond any individual’s control”

Elliot does make an excellent point and it depends if Angela’s philosophy resonates with your own. I believe that Grit explains the next stage of the waitress story, when that person is ‘shafted’ for the General Manager position they will take everything that they’ve learnt and set up something better, or they will apply for a competitor and do great things for them. Yes, there may be gritty people who end up in a shitty situation, and sometimes life isn’t fair. But this is a business book about attitude, and if I have a choice to take away the positives and feel in control of my success then I am going to do so.

In summary

I found that as an introduction to psychology and mindset this was perfect. It is an easy read compared to other business books like ‘Black Swan’. The personal stories and triumphs keep you engaged even though this is over 300 pages on the same subject matter. Grit is a new subject area for me which is perhaps why I devoured it so quickly. Two recommendations for  further reading are Carol Dweck’s book ‘Mindset’ and Charles Duhigg’s ‘The Power of Habit’. Will Smith sums up perfectly:

“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is: I am not afraid to die on the treadmill. I will not be outworked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me. You might be all of those things. You got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together , there’s two things: You’re getting off first or I am going to die. It’s really that simple.”

Next business book

The next business book I am reading is Matthew Syed’s ‘Black Box Thinking’. This book talks about the important role that mistakes and failure have in success. A very different take on Duckworth’s book this is about learning lessons from failure and takes examples from the medical industry, which is poor at learning from mistakes, and aviation which excels at it.

If you want to see Duckworth in action talking about Grit then check out her TED talk:


Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

About Good Words Online

This blog was designed to be a home for all the content I’ve created over the years. It is a mix of book reviews, personal reflections and business learnings. There is no definitive way to live or work, we all make our own choices. I in no way think I am right about any particular subject. This is simply about sharing what I’ve learnt and creating an online reminder for myself.

The name, good words, has no religious references. We can’t be good all the time. Each of us will make mistakes. All we can do is try to learn from them and try and attempt to be a little better next time.

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