Why does grit matter?

One way to think about grit is to consider what grit isn’t. Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something.

Instead, grit is about having 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 over time. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.

Talent and luck matter to success. But talent and luck are no guarantee of grit. And in the very long run, grit may matter as least as much, if not more, to what you achieve.

What does grit look like?

Students with grit might

  • develop and deepening their interests
  • stick with commitments, even when it’s difficult
  • not quit a sport in the middle of the season
  • revise an essay repeatedly
  • ask other people for feedback about how they can improve

Teachers with grit might

  • voraciously seek feedback on their classroom practice
  • strive every day to do one small thing better than they did it yesterday 
  • adjust low-level plans as needed in order to reach high-level course goals
  • not let students and other teachers quit on hard day
  • practice self-care; approach teaching as a marathon, not a sprint

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Teach Grit


Model it. Wear your passion proudly. Share stories of when you failed and learned something from the experience.
Name it. If grit is a core value for your classroom, your family, or your organization, make that explicit. Put grit on coffee mugs, t-shirts, posters, and stickers. Say things like, "In the Duckworth family, we finish what we begin. We're not the sort of people who quit in the middle of things, even when they're hard."
Celebrate it. When you see grit, draw attention to it: "Your work this past quarter has demonstrated enormous dedication. I know it wasn't always easy. I appreciate your dedication."
Enable it. In word and deed, provide consistently high levels of support and challenge: "I am giving you this feedback because I have high standards, and I know you can achieve them.

Related Activities

Videos about grit

Research articles about grit

Self-control and grit: Related but separable determinants of success
Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(5), 319–325. 
Duckworth, A., & Gross, J. J. (2014). 

Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087.
Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). 

The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance
Psychological Review, 100(3), 363.
Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. T., & Tesch-Römer, C. (1993).