Friday, July 15, 2016


This is an important, well-written, and accessible book. I buy Duckworth's formulation that our culture's focus on "natural talent" potentially keeps us from recognizing that talent might count, but effort counts *twice* when it comes to achievement. I grew up believing that having to work at something was a sign of inferiority, that persevering was what you did if you weren't clever enough to succeed right away. I had to unlearn that idea, painfully, when it came to trying to get my own book published. Grit is, as Duckworth points out, about falling down seven times and getting up eight. It's about hanging onto the idea that if we haven't accomplished something, we just haven't accomplished it *yet.* Grit is something that can be developed--largely as a result of rewriting the stories we tell ourselves about the world and how it works. This book mingles scientific studies; psychological insights; practical guidelines for cultivating grit in ourselves and our children; and anecdotes from CEOs and West Point grads and football players and coaches.

I was somewhat surprised that Duckworth didn't engage with the work of Brene Brown, whose recent book RISING STRONG has a lot in common with GRIT. From the cover of RISING STRONG: "If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. This is a book about what it takes to get back up." Like Duckworth, Brown is a Ph.D. and an avid researcher into human behavior; they both lean on both science and personal anecdote in their books; both have presented TED talks and have published books to acclaim; they both run their own institutes. Brown's groundbreaking previous book DARING GREATLY draws its title from Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena" speech--which Duckworth quotes at length toward the end of her book. (It IS a knockout passage, worth quoting.) Duckworth's ideas stand on their own, of course; but I think it would be interesting to see what Brown and Duckworth might come up with, working together.

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