We are only half awake. GRIT

We are only half awake. GRIT

White Paper Article below excerpts to allow you to investigate and learn more
about the Personality Trait of GRIT.

Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental resources. . . men the world over possess amounts of resource, which only exceptional individuals push to their extremes of use.
(William James, 1907, pp. 322–323)

We define grit as perseverance and passion for long-term goals.
Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining
effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus
in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as
a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina. Whereas disappointment
or boredom signals to others that it is time to change
trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course.

Take Angela Duckworth’s

What did you score?

In a qualitative study of the development of world-class pianists,

neurologists, swimmers, chess players, mathematicians, and sculp-

tors, Bloom (1985) noted that “only a few of [the 120 talented

individuals in the sample] were regarded as prodigies by teachers,

parents, or experts” (p. 533). Rather, accomplished individuals

worked day after day, for at least 10 or 15 years, to reach the top

of their fields. Bloom observed that in every studied field, the

general qualities possessed by high achievers included a strong

interest in the particular field, a desire to reach “a high level of

attainment” in that field, and a “willingness to put in great amounts

of time and effort” (p. 544). Similarly, in her study of prodigies

who later made significant contributions to their field, Winner

(1996) concluded, “Creators must be able to persist in the face of

difficulty and overcome the many obstacles in the way of creative



Drive and energy in childhood are more predictive

of success, if not creativity, than is IQ or some other more

domain-specific ability” (p. 293).

The qualitative insights of Winner (1996), Bloom (1985), and

Galton (1892), coupled with evidence gathered by the current

investigation and its forerunners, suggest that, in every field, grit

may be as essential as talent to high accomplishment. If

substantiated, this conclusion has several practical implications:

First, children who demonstrate exceptional commitment to a particular

goal should be supported with as many resources as those identi-

fied as “gifted and talented.” Second, as educators and parents, we

should encourage children to work not only with intensity but also

with stamina. In particular, we should prepare youth to anticipate

failures and misfortunes and point out that excellence in any

discipline requires years and years of time on task. Finally, liberal

arts universities that encourage undergraduates to sample broadly

should recognize the ineluctable trade-off between breadth and

depth. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, the goal of an education

is not just to learn a little about a lot but also a lot about a little.


Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth is Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and the Founder and Scientific Director of the Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development. In 2013, Angela was named a MacArthur Fellow in recognition of her research on grit, self-control, and other non-IQ competencies that predict success in life.


Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance is her first book.

Take Angela Duckworth’s

What did you score?