‘Grit’ can be defined as “firmness of mind or spiritunyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grit, 27/07/2021). This positive-psychology concept has recently received a great deal of interest because it can predict success and well-being across various domains (Griffin et al., 2016). 

According to Griffin et al. (2016), people with high levels of grit preserve despite obstacles, maintain long-term focus and see complex tasks through to their completion. Those with higher grit levels tend to have a healthier outlook on life, lower rates of burnout and greater psychological resilience.

Angela Ducksworth is considered by many to be the leading expert on grit. She is also the founder and scientific director of the Character Lab, a non-profit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development. Duckworth studies grit and self-control. In her first book, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” she wrote about what goes through your head when you fall down and how that makes all the difference, not talent or luck. In her TED talk on grit, she talks about motivating her students and how they can all learn if they work hard and long.

The 5 characteristics of grit

When it comes to the 5 characteristics of girt, there differing opinions according to whom you read. Having read several different articles, they all more or less cover the same characteristics but describe them differently. I chose to go with the following but would encourage you to do your own research if you have the time.

1) Courage

  • Relates to your ability to manage the fear of failure.
  • The supremely gritty are not afraid to tank but rather embrace it as part of a process. 
  • The supremely gritty understand that there are valuable lessons in defeat and that the vulnerability of perseverance is requisite for high achievement. 

2) Conscientiousness: Achievement Oriented vs Dependable

  • Five core character traits from which human personalities stem are: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neurotic. Conscientiousness is most connected to GRIT.
  • The achievement-oriented individual works tirelessly, trying to do a good job and completes the task at hand.
  • The dependable person is more notably self-controlled and conventional. 
  • Achievement orientated traits predicted job proficiency and educational success far better than dependability. 
  • In the context of conscientiousness, grit, and success, it is essential to commit to going for the gold rather than just show up for practice.

3) Long-Term Goals and Endurance: Follow Through

  • Long-term goals are achieved when practice has a purpose. This is the difference between someone who succeeds and just spending a lot of time doing something.
  • Long-term goals provide the context and framework to find the meaning and value of your long-term efforts. Which helps cultivate drive, sustainability, passion, courage, stamina…grit.

4) Resilience = Optimism, Confidence, and Creativity

  • A key component of grit is resilience.
  • Resilience is the powering mechanism that draws your head up, moves you forward, and helps you persevere despite whatever obstacles you face along the way. 
  • Gritty people believe, “everything will be alright in the end, and if it is not alright, it is not the end.”

5) Excellence (not perfection)

  • Excellence is an attitude.
  • The word excellence is derived from the Greek word Arête, which is bound with the notion of fulfilment of purpose or function and is closely associated with virtue. 
  • Excellence is far more forgiving, allowing and embracing failure and vulnerability on the ongoing quest for improvement. 
  • Excellence allows for disappointment and prioritises progress over perfection. 
  • Perfection is someone else’s perception of an ideal and ultimately unattainable. Anxiety, low self-esteem, obsessive-compulsive disorder, substance abuse, and clinical depression are only a few of the conditions ascribed to “perfectionism.” 

(Adapted from https://www.healthyuniversities.org/wp-content/uploads/5-Characteristics-Of-Grit.docx )

Photo by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash

10 Ways to Develop Grit and Resilience 

Building resilience and grit varies person-to-person and is influenced by one’s culture. Still, the APA offers ten ways to build strength that just about anyone can do.

  1. If you are not a social person, becoming more social, i.e., purposely connecting with others, can help. 
  2. Get control over how you respond to the adverse events you experience. 
  3. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus gets credit for saying, “The only constant in life changes.” Get used to it. Sometimes a goal needs to be abandoned because it is no longer attainable. The inability to accept things that one cannot change is like continuing to spin a chainless wheel. 
  4. Apply the Kaizen principle to your goals. Start with the absolute most minor component that relates to the larger, long-term goal. As Walt Disney famously said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”  
  5. Commit to making decisions when you find yourself in a challenging situation. There is no room for wishy-washy actions.  
  6. We can learn a lot about ourselves when we struggle through a bad experience. How have our relationships grown? How have we gained strength or perspective? 
  7. Forget negative self-talk. Trust that you know yourself better than anyone else, and you have the intelligence and power to make forthright decisions. You can solve problems as they arise.  
  8. Bad things will happen. Try to think about them from a lifelong perspective. Draw a line on a paper representing the day you were born to the age you believe you will die. Mark off significant life events, positive and negative, along that line. Place a line on that paper that represents your current age. Put a dot on that line to mark the recent adversity. In the grand scheme of your life, how significant is that dot? When you look back at past events, how much or how little did they affect your life now?  
  9. Practice optimism. This is not a denial of the bad. It is an acknowledgement of the good and what is possible in your life. 
  10. Practice self-compassion, get some exercise, learn something new, and spend time laughing.

(Sourced from (https://positivepsychology.com/5-ways-develop-grit-resilience/)

I hope this has been informative and given you something to think about. So get out there and get you grit on!!!!


Griffin, M. L., McDermott, K.A., McHugh, R.K., Fritzmaurice, G.M., Weiss, R. D. (2016, April 19). Grit in patients with substance use disorders. Am J Addict, 25(8), 652-658.

michael theron

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