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Nature vs. Nurture: the Role Grit Plays in Success

Nature vs. Nurture: the Role Grit Plays in Success
Thursday, 11 October 2018

Last week we dove into the debate about whether entrepreneurs are born or made (see the article here), but this week we want to take another spin on this question—what researcher Angela Duckworth calls “grit.” In addition to her academic work, Duckworth is also a psychologist, teacher, mother, daughter, etc., all of these experiences greatly influencing her perception of the world. And she believes that grit (aka passion, perseverance for long term goals, and getting up when you fall down) is more important than natural born talent and luck when it comes to being successful. [1]

As a young girl she was often told by her father that she wasn’t a genius, but Duckworth wasn’t thrown off by this and has, subsequently, dismantled her father’s idea of successful people being born with capacity to succeed (something she calls “talent”) [2]. Instead Duckworth sustains that one of the most important traits that a person can have is his or her capacity to sustain interest in and work towards a long term goal, no matter what stands in his or her way [3]. By doing this, she also defied her father’s perception of herself by winning the MacArthur fellowship award, often referred to as “the genius grant.” [2]

The interpretation of what it takes to make a successful individual is something that Duckworth has studied for years and has applied to everything from young students at school and military cadets [3] to organisation institutions [4]. It is also a reasonable explanation for why those individuals with the highest levels of IQ and talents are not always those who are the most successful [5]. However, while she does believe that her father’s comments about how ‘normal’ she was did impact her level of desire to achieve and grit [2], she doesn’t have a strict formula for how to bring grit into the lives of all of those around us [6].

If you find that grit is an interesting way to measure your potential success, consider taking the scale test here.