Grit Book Summary: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

by Accessory To Success December 23, 2020

Grit Book Summary: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Table of Contents app: Jump Links

Main Takeaway

Have you always attributed success and outstanding achievement to talent? Grit by Angela Duckworth says that it is persistence and passion which is the essential ingredient of success.

This book has many keen insights which enlighten the reader. It is written in an easy readable style. Students, parents, teachers, businessmen and just about every person, will understand why perseverance, passion, and a growth mindset can overcome lack of talent and propel you on the path to big achievement.

Duckworth is the daughter of a scientist and always felt she was not smart enough. Life happened and she explored many avenues like teaching, business and neurosciences. It was on this journey that she realized that talent and genius do not guarantee success, but GRIT does.

This book is based on scientific research and information obtained from several interviews of high achievers in various fields. Her personal history, from being criticized for not being smart enough by her father to being made a McArthur ‘Genius’ Fellow in 2013, is a story of passion and perseverance triumphing over talent.

What You Will Learn

  • Passion + Perseverance for long term goals = Grit
  • Move forward and do not give up when you face failure
  • Be willing to fail and develop a ‘never quit’ attitude
  • Talent is not a guarantee of grit
  • Talent and potential is one thing. How you handle it is another
  • Talent is overvalued. We naturally lean towards talented people, while underestimating the hard workers. This is a wrong bias. Hard work succeeds more often and more consistently than does talent.
  • Talent x Effort = Skill & Skill x Effort = Achievement
  • Importance of defining your goals and working towards them
  • Discover your passion and follow through with perseverance to touch excellence
  • Hallmarks of champions
  • Understand the motivation behind grit
  • Work attitude is more important than your work title

The Book Summary

"To be gritty is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To be gritty is to hold fast to an interesting and purposeful goal. To be gritty is to invest, day after week after year, in challenging practice. To be gritty is to fall down seven times, and rise eight."

This beautiful definition of grit, cannot be more simply explained. It speaks of purpose, passion, goals and perseverance. It also speaks of not giving in to failure, but rising each time (determination).

To reach your destination you have to continue to move forward. Be willing to fail, learn how to face failure, overcome it, keep trying and do not give up. If this sounds interesting, you might also read the book DRIVE.

The West Point Example: Duckworth speaks of her visit to West Point (The United States Military Academy). Here, each year, twelve hundred new cadets go through a grueling seven-week training regimen (called Beast Barracks). Most make it through, while some do not.

Grit Book Summary The Power of Passion and Perseverance Quote 1

Duckworth designed a grit scale test with psychologists, and revisited West Point some years later. The Grit Scale is a written survey. Candidates taking up this survey have to measure their degree of identification to the statements in the survey and answer accordingly. Statements like “Setbacks don’t discourage me. I don’t give up easily” and “My interests change from year to year” are included in the survey. They are designed to measure perseverance and passion. A grit score is given based on the answers.

This grit scale threw up astounding results which closely matched the number of cadets dropping out each year. Needless to say cadets with a ‘never quit’ attitude aced the Barracks Beast.

People think talent is essential for success. Talent is not a guarantee of grit, though. It is interesting that you could be really good at something and still not be the best. You have to have the determination, the grit to become the best. Talent is one thing, how we expend it is another thing altogether.

We naturally prefer talented people over hard workers. This way we protect ourselves by assigning them the gift of talent. Our subconscious does not then feel threatened by them because they have innate talent.

Grit Book Summary The Power of Passion and Perseverance Quote 2

The Enron Ranking System Example: This system is infamously known as ‘rank or yank’ system. Enron, the energy company, employed a forcible ranking system, ranking employees based on their contribution to the company’s revenue. The bottom 15% were fired or ‘yanked’. This led to many unethical practices, toxic company culture, and ended in a disaster for the company.

Everyone is capable of extraordinary accomplishments. Talent is often overvalued and grit is dismissed. In fact, gritty people are often more successful.

Talent x Effort = Skill
Skill x Effort = Achievement


This calculation clearly shows that you need twice the amount of effort as that of talent. With effort, talent quickly becomes a skill. Again with effort, this skill converts to achievement. Talent is how quickly your skills improve when you invest effort. Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and make productive use of them. Hard work and determination is found in spades in the book Blue Ocean Strategy.

Grit Book Summary The Power of Passion and Perseverance Quote 3

The Ultimate Goal: Structure and define your ultimate goal. This should be a final, supreme and most high level goal that you set for yourself. Grit is when you are able to hold this end goal in your sights, work tirelessly towards it.

Mark many mid and low level goals on your journey to serve your ultimate goal. In this way, with a clear picture of your life map, you will find that your grit grows stronger. Passion to achieve becomes deeper and perseverance develops. This will lead to world class excellence. Another great book about success and situations that lead to it is Outliers.

Young adults may find themselves passionate and interested in many things. With maturity, they will discover their true passion followed by intense development and then a lifetime of deepening. If you’re unsure what to do read the book Poke The Box.

Hallmark of Champions:

  • They set stretch goals with focus on aspects which need improvement
  • They put in deliberate practice to achieve the goals
  • Once the goal is mastered, set another one until they become smooth and flawless in all aspects of their overall performance
  • Accomplish mastery one by one.


Their aim is to consciously acquire mastery over their incompetence, until it becomes an unconscious competence. They put in deliberate practice, which is hard and boring until they reach the flow, which is effortless and fun.

The Bricklayer Parable: Three bricklayers are asked: “What are you doing?” The first says, “I am laying bricks.” The second says, “I am building a church.” And the third says, “I am building the house of God.” The first bricklayer has a job. The second has a career. The third has a calling.

The motivation behind grit can be self-interest or helping others. People who thrive on helping others have greater grit because they are working at something bigger than their own selves.

Grit Book Summary The Power of Passion and Perseverance Quote 4

The bricklayer parable shows how the same work is viewed by three different bricklayers. Their perspective about their work will make immense difference in their attitude and approach to their work. Most of us would like to fall into the third bricklayer category. Sadly, almost all of us fall in the first two bricklayers’ category.

If your life perspective is to help others, you will be happier and more fulfilled. Intrinsic interest in work will get you to work harder. Extrinsic work will get you to work less. Stumbling On Happiness and DRIVE are other books that go into great detail about intrinsic and extrinsic motivating factors.

This is an insightful and interesting book. It will change the way you approach your work. Passion, perseverance aka GRIT will take a front seat in your life.

About The Author

Angela Duckworth was born to Chinese immigrants in 1970. She is an American psychologist, academic and best-selling author. She taught math and science to high school students before she moved onto research. As Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, she was awarded a McArthur Fellowship in 2013.

Duckworth is best known for her pioneering research on self-control and grit. She is also the developer of the grit scale. As a leader in her field and a born giver, Angela is a highly valued and trusted advisor to World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEO’s.

She is driven by a passion to right inequities and better the world. This is her first book and a New York Times bestseller. Her Ted Talk on the same has been viewed over eight million times on YouTube. You can find the link to the same below.

Accessory To Success
Accessory To Success


Leave a comment


Also in Books

Fooled by Randomness Book Summary
Fooled by Randomness Book Summary

by Accessory To Success December 05, 2021

People look at the past and assume it predicts the future, yet it does not. Past events, like current ones, were influenced by randomness or luck, and they are stripped of the daily noise that influenced decisions and events at the time. Life is nonlinear which leads to chance events, so luck plays a big role. When considering a past event in politics, investments and business, look at the costs of the alternative rather than the outcomes.
Read More
Alchemy Book Summary: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life
Alchemy Book Summary: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life

by Accessory To Success December 03, 2021

A great deal of customer behavior remains a mystery even in a world built on economic models and logical methodology. In Rory Sutherland’s Alchemy, you will see how to apply creative thinking to explain seemingly inexplicable behavior and also learn that some behavior is more obvious than you thought.
Read More
Profit First Book Summary: Transform Your Business Into a Money-Making Machine
Profit First Book Summary: Transform Your Business Into a Money-Making Machine

by Accessory To Success November 26, 2021

The Profit First system is designed to build a business for long-term success by helping the entrepreneur avoid making critical operational decisions based on temporary events that lead to future cash flow problems, like a sudden surge or decline in sales.
Read More