Why Grit theory is important for success

Psychologist Angela Duckworth founded Grit theory, a study looking into why some people are successful and others fail. Duckworth investigates why Grit theory is important for success by ruling out the common stereotypes of achievement.


She discovered that success isn’t determined by the capacity to learn quickly and easily, good luck, IQ scores and physical health. Instead, Duckworth summarised that high achievers are people who have a passion, a perseverance with learning, and a willingness to overcome failure. Being aware that you are the person who controls your own motivation and outcomes is in fact what drives success.


Passion and perseverance

The grit scale consists of two components: passion and perseverance. When it comes to long-term commitments, these attributes help with sticking to set goals and achieving them. Grit is concerned with well-being, and following grit theory results in a healthy way of life.

It is believed that the successful individual will obtain a high score in both passion and perseverance. It must be noted that both of these attributes are completely different skills to possess. One is concerning a desire and ambition for learning, and the other is about a willingness to not give up on the goal that is set.


Talent and destiny?

People once believed that the individual’s natural talent is associated with their success in life.  This means that talent should not be perceived as destiny. Talent is usually a result of genes and life experience, which is unrelated to grit. Grit is therefore a product of ‘genetic, educational, behavioural and psychological factors.’


Factors of success

Duckworth suggests that highly successful people are ‘resilient and hardworking,’ and know in a ‘very, very deep way what it is they wanted.’ She explains that there is currently a gap that exists between someone’s potential to achieve and its actualisation.

By focusing on talent alone, humans are distracted by something that’s just as important in achieving success, the effort that’s put into the process.

Duckworth suggests that the product of talent and effort, when combined, leads to skills, and skills combined with effort equals achievement. This means that effort has to be applied twice for success; effort builds upon skillset as well as making skills productive.


Duckworth theorised why grit is important for success by investigating factors concerned with learning. It involves a number of attributes, like being self-aware with learning, focusing on motivation and achieving goals. Individuals must learn that passion and perseverance help to stay motivated and achieve goals. It is important to note that talent isn’t always necessarily linked to success. ‘Genetic, educational, behavioural and psychological factors,’ can be more effective for the learning process.


Find more information on Duckworth’s Grit theory here.

Interested about learning strategies? Read about Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences on our blog.