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Grit: Twice the Effort, Faster Results

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Grit: Twice the Effort, Faster Results

Kate d’Entremont, Zichen Guo, Jeanne Lehericey, Ziran Shi, and James Young

MGMT2303: People work organization Micro behaviour




Introducing Grit and Angela Duckworth       

        In the book, Grit, by Angela Duckworth, Duckworth uses experiences and studies to prove the importance of passion and perseverance in being successful. Duckworth is a psychologist and an author. She has attended and graduated from the University of Oxford, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard College. Duckworth completed her degree and began working as a management consultant. A change in career paths brought Duckworth to working as a public-school teacher, and, currently, to professing at the University of Pennsylvania. Through teaching Duckworth became interested in watching students’ success. Duckworth’s studies originated from her determination to investigate why some students are more successful than others. After years of research and consultation with other professionals, Duckworth published Grit.

            The overarching theme of Grit is to evaluate what formulates success. Duckworth explains the dominance of passion and perseverance over talent to lead to success. Through numerous studies, Duckworth has defined grit through a theory involving effort, skill, achievement, and talent. She theorized that skill is composed of talent and effort, and achievement is composed of skill and effort. Duckworth’s theory displays the significance of effort as greater than any innate skill or talent, proving that people are capable of gaining grit. Duckworth writes “The four psychological assets of interest, practice, purpose, and hope are not You have it or you don’t commodities” (Duckworth 93). By spending time to develop on these “four assets” the amount of grit, and ultimately the level of success, can improve. Duckworth continuously refers to “passion” and “purpose” as elements greater than talent, allowing everybody to have the same opportunity of success.

In consonance with her theory, Duckworth has created a Grit Scale to determine an individual’s grittiness, and ultimately predict their success. The Grit Scale consists of a multitude of statements in which the person being tested agrees or disagrees with through numbers between one and five. These numbers are added up and put into a scale to make a grit score anywhere between one (least gritty) to five (most gritty). Duckworth uses the same questions to determine the individual's score of both perseverance and passion. An individual’s level of grit is scored in accordance to the time taken, stressing that levels of grit can change as an individual change.

Evidence From Grit and Relation to Organizational Behavior

          In Grit,  Duckworth describes a study she conducted on spelling bee participants between the ages of seven and fifteen to determine why certain participants are significantly more successful than others. Duckworth asked each participant to calculate how often they practiced spelling. She looks at the days of the week the participants practice, as well as how much time they spend on each day. In addition to how often the participants study, Duckworth looked at each participant’s level of spelling. To determine this, Duckworth used a scale, it showed “…a fairly wide range of scores, with some kids scoring at the verbal prodigy level and others ‘average’ for their age” (Duckworth 13). These results allowed Duckworth to predict which participants would go the farthest in the competition. Duckworth determined that the students who spent more time practicing did better in competition, even if they were not the participants that scored at the “prodigy level”. Overall, the most motivated, grittier, participants have the most success.

In a similar situation, Duckworth researches the cadets of West Point Military Academy. West Duckworth uses background information on the cadets, including their high school rank and other levels of academia before attending West Point. Duckworth follows the cadets through their experience at West Point and tracks their physical training, their academic growth, and their mentality with the hope of being able to predict which cadets will drop out of the academy and which cadets will graduate. Using the Grit Scale, Duckworth determines the cadet’s level of grit at the time and identifies that it is “[n]ot [the cadet’s] SAT scores, not [the cadet’s] high school rank, not [the cadet’s] leadership, not [the cadet’s] athletic ability. Not [the cadet’s] Whole Candidate Score. What matters is grit” (Duckworth 10). In correlation with the spelling bee participants, the cadets that spend more time mentally and physically preparing and improving themselves have greater chances of success. Through the Grit Scale, Duckworth is able to accurately determine which cadets will thrive and graduate from West Point-the one’s with higher levels of grit- and which cadets will not complete their time at West Point.

 From the texts, Organizational Behaviour: Improving Performance and Commitment in the Workplace, and Grit, it can be determined that innate ability is not the most important factor in success. Organizational Behaviour defines ability as “Relatively stable capabilities of people for performing a particular range of related activities” (Colquitt 91). This definition implies that ability is an unchangeable factor that will only vary slightly through time. In relation to the Duckworth’s spelling bee study, the participant’s ability is tested through the verbal intelligence test. In West Point, multiple tests are used to determine the cadet’s ultimate level of ability to succeed in such a demanding school. These tests give Duckworth background on each individual’s set level of ability.  However, through her past knowledge and studies, Duckworth knows that ability is not the only driver to success. With motivation, “A set of energetic forces that determine the direction, intensity, and persistence of a [person’s] work ethic” performance can increase (Colquitt 209). Increasing the amount of work put into a task leads to a greater success. Duckworth noted this with the participants and cadets that spend longer periods of time practicing and improving. The students and cadets that are more motivated and persistent with preparation have more grit and end with greater results.



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