Saint Paul the Apostle, Winston Churchill, U.S. Grant and Babe Ruth all knew the one secret to success that most of us overlook. Angela Lee Duckworth saw how this very important trait influenced these individuals and reintroduced the world to it. Even Duckworth’s highest performing and smartest students could not compete with this one thing.
After leaving teaching, Duckworth began studying organizations and found that it was not beauty, social intelligence, health or IQ that was most important to achieve success, but it was grit. In a TED talk, Angela defined grit as passion and perseverance for long-term goals. It is stamina, grinding every day, every week, and every month for years, until it becomes a reality. Grit is a marathon, not a sprint.
Saint Paul the Apostle writes to Timothy from Rome while he is in prison and his life is in danger. 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (ESV). Paul had survived his mission through incredible difficulties. He kept the faith and betrayed no one. Paul did what he needed to do when he should have done it, whether he felt like it or not.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill said, “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” Churchill was the Prime Minister during one of Britain’s difficult times, and received much opposition during the war. Churchill remained steadfast, as seen in his words, “we shall never surrender.”
George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr. grew up at St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. Circumstances surrounding the reason Babe went to reformatory school are questionable. What we do know is that Babe made no excuses for his humble beginnings. He paid the price, did what he needed to do, and never gave up. Babe said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”
President Ulysses S. Grant reminds us of the most important lesson about grit. “The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.”
When nothing else works, you will always have grit. I do not see grit as a skill you can obtain in 10,000 hours or a habit you can develop in 21 days. You are not born with grit. Grit is a character trait we get through a growth mindset and will experience over time.