Three Ways to Have More Grit in the Workplace

Angela Duckworth is impressive.

A McArthur Grant recipient and currently a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, writing a book might be Duckworth’s least impressive accomplishment. Grit, her debut publication, aims to highlight how grit, or that “stick-withitness” quality, is the key to success both personally and professionally. Duckworth shares insight into how effort is often forsaken in the name of talent – despite what we would like to believe – but how effort, not talent, is the key to success.

And I read it – so you didn’t have to.

Here are three quick takeaways on how to have more “grit” for goals:

  1. If you’re stuck when working on a project, switch to a related task that is easier. Duckworth writes that it “makes sense to switch your path when a different lower-level goal – a different means to the same end – is just more efficient, or more fun, or for whatever reason makes more sense than your original plan.” (p. 74) Pivoting allows you to stay motivated by getting things done while finding a new route to reach that project deadline and, therefore, stick to your goal.
  2. Figure out if your goal is for pleasure or purpose. “Grittier people are dramatically more motivated than others to seek a meaningful, other-centered life,” writes Duckworth (p. 147). She found that people who discovered ways to apply purpose and meaning to their goals stuck with them better. If that sounds too time-consuming: figure out how completing your task will benefit others – altruism is a powerful motivator.
  3. I think therefore I am... “Thinking of yourself as someone who is able to overcome tremendous adversity often leads to behavior that confirms that self-conception.” (p. 252) In doing her research, Duckworth found that grittier people believed that they could reach their goal. Using positive self-talk that highlights your ability to complete a task, and to do a good job at it, will help you succeed at work.

Want to learn more? Her book is available on her website. But for another quick dive, check out her Ted Talk or listen to her interview on Freakonomics by Stephen Dubner.


Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. New York: Scribner.

Anna Hibschman Ferguson
FSA | Marketing Assistant
[email protected]

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