Patton's Pick from the PMA Library: "Grit"

April 2020

"Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance" by Angela Duckworth

If you're looking for book recommendations in the productivity and professional development genre, Patton offers a weekly summary of some of the essential and emerging titles from the PMA Library.

Angela Duckworth's "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance" calls out the biased celebration of "talent," and makes a compelling case for the superior effectiveness of passion and continued efforts. 


  • Talent x effort = skill
  • Skill x effort = achievement 

(talent counts, but effort counts twice)

"Grit" is a personal recommendation, and a selection by Chris Delisio, my guest on Episode #24 of the Path Podcast. 

Three takeaways:

  1.  Success is slow but doable. Passion and perseverance trump talent. Readers should be aware that the fact that they are unable to do something now does not mean that they are lacking the inborn talent required to do so. Duckworth challenges readers to reconsider biases of talent and instead start assuring oneself that they too are capable of achieving their goals. 

    Success = 
    1. Small daily goals: progress that motivates gradually, encouraging consistency and repetition. 
    2. Long vision: the end goal should be something great that can inspire you for a long time, and keep your pursuit active. 
  2. Attitude is the key. Duckworth emphasizes the importance of maintaining a "Growth mindset," and an overall positive attitude. Reassuring oneself that "You can do it" and that "you will do it" is the most effective way to achieve your goal, coaching perseverance to yourself or to others. Your 4 greatest assets are interest, practice, purpose, and hope.

  3. Prioritization is essential. Understanding that time and energy are limited, especially when long term effort is responsible for goal fulfillment, one must select which of their areas of improvement are most valuable to them. Duckworth shares a Warren Buffet exercise: list 25 of your goals for the year, pick 5 on which to focus and actively ignore the other 20 so as to avoid distractions.

Duckworth's "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance" is an encouraging collection of research and anecdotes arguing why misconceptions about a lack of talent should never hinder your goals. By letting your long term goals inspire you despite the challenges of getting there, you can effectively commit to a slow but successful approach to confidently (and patiently) seeing your goals achieved.

Angela Lee Duckworth
is an American academic, psychologist and popular science author. She is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studies grit and self-control.