Some Things You Think You Know : Grit

Grit is defined as: “Perseverance and passion for long-term goals”.

Times are changing, and we humans are spending more and more of that time and resources  into figuring what makes every one and every thing in this world tick. Through lord only know how many researches, and observing untold number of fellow modern apes, we’ve isolated this one single most important attribute that determines a person’s success. Now if you’re thinking, “Hold on a second, this idiot here thinks that he’s just going to march in here, lay it on me thick, ‘tell me’ that this thing called ‘Grit’ is what determines whether I ever make it big or not, and expect us all to just bow down and believe all this crap he’s blurting?

Gimme a break, I’ve lived on this planet kid, I’ve learned a few things in my time.”

Well, you don’t have to believe everything you read, just that in this case, here’s exhibit A: Angela Duckworth, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania found out through her research that:

Smarter students actually had less grit than their peers who scored lower on an intelligence test. This finding suggests that, among the study participants – all students at an Ivy League school – people who are not as bright as their peers ‘compensate by working harder and with more determination’. And their effort pays off: The grittier students – not the smartest ones – had the highest GPAs.”

There you have it fellas, once and for all, you don’t have to be smart to make it big in life (in fact, it could be your undoing) , or the most physically imposing, what matters is, whether you’re able to stick it back to life, especially when you find yourself on the hind end of those gruesome days when you’ve just spent the last 12 hours getting pounded to a pulp by life itself.

Remember, what Rocky said, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

Rocky already knew what Angela had to do a study to figure out! But that’s just how it is. Some times, we humans, we need more than mere hopeful words to make it through on this “God’s earth”, nah, some times, what we need, is proof.

Now some of you may think, “Yeah yeah, whatever, grades and all are fine, but life is so much more than that, I can’t even remember the last time I gave two cents about mine or someone else’s scores. What do you have to say to that smart ass?”

Well, good ol’ Angela’s study also found out that:

At the élite United States Military Academy, West Point, a cadet’s grit score was the best predictor of success in the rigorous summer training program know as ‘Beast Barracks.’ Grit mattered more than intelligence, leadership ability or physical fitness.” and “At the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the grittier contestants were the most likely to advance to the finals – at least in part because they studied longer, not because they were smarter or were better spellers.

In a nutshell, the findings suggest that the achievement of difficult goals doesn’t merely entail possessing talent, but rather application of talent through time. Being smarter essentially is like having a megastart in subway surfers, I can’t remember the last I made a high score using one of those. What it usually requires is, spending countless hours in front of the phone screen, squinting your eyes, and trying till you get there. Well, so it is in life.

Sir Winston Churchill said, "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."
Sir Winston Churchill said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

In truth, it’s more like, “The ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm, i.e. Grit, leads to success.” He might not be a 100% correct, but he knew how to get there. And that itself is  just as good as knowing the real thing.

Send in your stories of grit, articles, questions, queries or comments to mlore@manipalblog.com or apuesto@manipalblog.com and keep grinding out those of tough days.

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  • Grit is stamina. Grit is sticking with hard things over time. Grit is perseverance. Good article Sudeep.