Be A Rockstar | Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals

(Last Updated On: April 3, 2020)

I’m a social scientist at heart.  I achieved my Bachelor’s and Master’s in political science.  What that really means is I possess degrees in academic reading and writing along with statistics.  Retrieve good data and follow the numbers.  Basically, I scientifically study people and their behavior.   My concentration of expertise stands adjacent to personality psychology.  Simply, genetics coupled with environmental interaction shape behavior.  Behavior over time shapes into personality.

Why does this matter?  In 2007, Angela Duckworth of the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania headed research on grit, talent, achievement and its relation to personality.  She along with three other colleagues performed a total of six studies.  These included educational attainment in adults, GPA among Ivy League undergrads, retention in West Point US Military Academy classes, and ranking in the National Spelling Bee (NSB).    

Grit is defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals.  A gritty person views achievement as a marathon!  Remember, life’s a journey.  You’re gonna need stamina!

Talent & Achievement

Intelligence is the best documented predictor of achievement.  The validity of intelligence to predict success outcomes rises as the occupational complexity is considered.  Intelligence may account for 33% of the variance in success outcomes.  Fear not, friends!  Perseverance is at least as crucial as intelligence!

A person’s ability to persist in accomplishing a goal despite the difficulties and delays in achieving success is just as valid.  Someone may play an instrument well after studying its components and rich history, but deliberate practice over years sets the novice apart from the virtuoso.   

Personality & Achievement

The social sciences often use The Big Five Model to quantify personality traits.  My past research utilized the model widely.  The five personality traits include Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (OCEAN).  Each trait contains facets.   Conscientiousness measures achievement-striving, competence, self-discipline, deliberation, dutifulness, and order. 

Duckworth et al.’s research notes conscientiousness relates more robustly to job performance than the other four traits.  Further, achievement predicted job proficiency and educational success better than dependability (competence).


So what did these studies show about grit?

  • Grittier individuals attained higher levels of education.
  • Older individuals are higher in grit than younger individuals.
  • Grittier individuals make fewer career changes.
  • Undergrads at elite universities who scored higher in grit also scored higher GPAs than their peers.
  • Grit is a better predictor of 1st Summer retention at West Point than self-control.
  • Grittier competitors at the NSB outranked the less gritty.

REMEMBER: Achievement is a product of talent and effort over time.

Rockstars follow their PASSION!

Rockstars PRACTICE!

Rockstars are GRITTY!

Duckworth, Angela L., C. Peterson, M. D. Matthews & D. R. Kelly. (2007). “Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.92(6). 1087-1101.


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