What I’m reading: Grit by Angela Duckworth


In yesterday’s post I told you about the book I’m reading called Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. It’s inspiring because the premise is that talent isn’t crucial to achieving your dreams. The more important ingredients are effort, determination, and stick-to-it-ive-ness.

As I read the book, the quote of Calvin Coolidge’s (30th President of the United States) kept coming back to me:

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

People have observed this for centuries but now, Angela Duckworth and her colleagues are putting science behind this observation.

An example of this are the NBA Hall of Fame players Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. It’s commonly accepted that Larry Bird isn’t particularly gifted with basketball talent–not like Michael Jordan. Larry, though, paired his love and passion for basketball with an unconquerable determination to be the very best player he could.

That determination caused him to practice over and over and over.

And after days, weeks, months, years, and decades of practicing for hours on end, he not only achieved his goals but also set records and is considered to be one of the best basketball players in history.

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Copyright Artisans Workshop Designs

Have you seen this played out in your own life–your friends or people you’ve observed?

The example from my own life is from years ago when I was taking singing lessons. It was a group class for adults and also included individual attention. As you’d expect, in the group were people of various interest levels and also different degrees of talent. Some students had magnificent voices and were interested in going professional. The majority of the students had very pretty voices and were taking the class for fun and enrichment, rather than to go professional.

There was a small group of students, though, who had pretty voices–nothing out of the ordinary–but yet they had an unshakable determination to go professional.

At first, based on vocal quality–talent–alone, I thought the people with magnificent voices would have better shots at going pro than this small group of students with very nice voices and loads of determination.

As the year continued, I noticed that the talented students weren’t getting the breaks that the determined students were. Observing closer, I found that the talented students didn’t work as hard or rehearse as diligently as the determined students.

Years later, just about every one of the determined students was making money singing. In fact, it was common to hear that a number of the talented group were unable to handle the rigors of a professional career.


This is exactly what Angela Duckworth talks about. While it’s wonderful to have talent, you can still live the life of your dreams using burning passion, wild dedication, and unstoppable effort to get you there.

You can do it!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,



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