If you have not yet read my first post explaining why I am doing something as crazy as reading 52 books in 52 weeks, here is a link to that post to help you understand. Since this is my first review ever I am creating a framework for how the reviews will look moving forward. Things can change depending on what I find works best for me, but for right now here is the plan: an author profile (previous achievements and background and why they are trustworthy), highlights, memorable quotes, personal impact, an actionable goal, and my overall impressions and score. This is done to help me organize my thoughts and be as clear as I possibly can for myself and for anyone reading. My goal is to have this be a recorded journal of notes for myself and hopefully help somebody decide whether or not to give the book a shot. Each review will receive an overall score out of 10, which I acknowledge is purely subjective based on my experience(s) in life and the book, so take it with a grain of salt.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Angela Duckworth is a psychologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her undergraduate degree in Advanced Neurobiology from Harvard and her PhD from Penn. She also is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow. The unique thing about the MacArthur Fellowship is that there are no applications allowed. The only way to receive one is to be nominated anonymously by your peers and then chosen by a board of about 12 people. Only about 20 people receive this award each year, so obviously it is a very prestigious honor. One thing I find very cool is that the author didn’t even find out about this award until receiving a phone call congratulating her and informing her that she had won. In other words, she has the academic achievements for me to find her credible, and she has also clearly done enough from the eyes of her well-established peers to not only be credible, but to be considered one of the top performers in the United States.
One thing this book does very well is the use of stories, or case-studies. These range from the author’s experiences at West Point to Steve Young’s upbringing, and many more as well. These stories do a good job to illustrate different types of grit and different ways that grit can be cultivated. I thought the author did a good job touching on the nature vs. nurture debate when it comes to resiliency, and also did a good job when discussing effort. There is a chapter called Effort Counts Twice that was my favorite chapter in the entire book. In it, Duckworth comes up with her theory about how skill and achievement are reached. Her theory is that talent x effort = skill, and that skill x effort = achievement. Because of it, if we ever want to develop skill or achieve anything great in life our effort must be continuous and is much more important than talent or skill will ever be in determining our results. I also enjoyed reading her chapters on how to develop grit and thought that there was just enough practical advice and stories to make it worthwhile. Her Grit Scale was eye-opening to me, and I appreciated her attempt to quantify grit as an economist and businessman. It makes it easier to track improvements and growth, which is one of the most important elements of a book.
I recently have been going through an extremely difficult situation in my life. In fact, it is easily the most difficult situation in my life. Because of that I spent the previous months without any intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, constantly worrying about my self-worth, and if things really could get better or if I was bound to feel this same way forever. It was during this time that I read Grit. The biggest takeaway for me was that I control my destiny, and that I am the one who decides if I am happy or not. I realized that I was waiting for permission to try and improve and be happy when, in reality, I just needed a swift kick in the rear. After reading this book I came to the conclusion that it is extremely important to feel your feelings when you have them, but to not let them linger without consciously taking charge of the situation. This whole book is about how crucial effort and resiliency is when it comes to finding success in any situation, and I need to live those words.
There is a lot of mention of focus in this book, which is one area where I am lacking. I constantly have new thoughts and ideas and sticking with one idea long-term is a challenge for me. However, I have seen the results of focused work when I have been able to do that. Because of this, I am going to set One Big Goal each night before bed. That will be what I work on the next day, no matter what else comes up. I will work on that until it is finished. Then, and only then, will I be able to work on other things on my to-do list.
This is Duckworth’s first book, and I thought it was a solid effort. While there were still parts that felt a little too subjective for my taste, I did appreciate the research that went into this book. I also loved reading about Steve Young. As a big sports fan growing up in Provo, UT I would hear many stories about Steve Young, the quarterback. I loved hearing stories about Steve Young, the child, and Steve Young, the anxious college student (although his stories are just a very small section, so don’t buy this book exclusively for that reason). I feel like those types of stories are much more relatable and important, and this book included enough to keep me satisfied. While I wouldn’t say this book is the book that changed everything for me (that one will come in a future review), it did leave enough of an impact for me to reflect back on the lessons learned moving forward too. For me, if a book can make you think in a new way, and can do it even while not reading it, it is a worthwhile read. That was the case with this book. Because of that, I give it an 8/10.
Top 8 Quotes
“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”
“It soon became clear that doing one thing better and better might be more satisfying than staying an amateur at many different things.”
“Nobody wants to show you the hours and hours of becoming. They’d rather show the highlight of what they’ve become.”
“I have a feeling tomorrow will be better is different from I resolve to make tomorrow better.”
“It isn’t suffering that leads to hopelessness. It’s suffering you think you can’t control.”
“Without effort, your talent is nothing more than unmet potential. Without effort, your skill is nothing more than what you could have done but didn’t.”
“When you keep searching for ways to change your situation for the better, you stand a chance of finding them. When you stop searching, assuming they can’t be found, you guarantee they won’t.”
“Being gritty doesn’t mean not showing pain or pretending everything is OK. In fact, when you look at healthy and successful and giving people, they are extraordinarily meta-cognitive. They’re able to say things like, ‘Dude, I totally lost my temper this morning.’ That ability to reflect on yourself is signature to grit.”
Read this book? Have any questions or thoughts? Leave a comment below!
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