During her lecture on October 8, Angela Duckworth, Ph.D., provided tips on acquiring more grit.

duckworthWhat is grit? Why is it good for us? And how can we get more of it?

Angela Lee Duckworth, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and a MacArthur Fellow, addressed those questions and explained the science behind her gospel of grit in an October 8 lecture at Adelphi University.

The Ruth S. Ammon School of Education and Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies cosponsored the lecture in the Ruth S. Harley University Center’s Thomas Dixon Lovely Ballroom.

Grit, said Dr. Duckworth, is stamina or determination, and her studies of high achievers prove that it’s a common denominator among those who make it to the top.

How can we get grittier? Dr. Duckworth offered these tips.

1.    Race your strengths. “You have to do things in life that you’re just good at and you’re interested in,” she said. “But then, once you’ve decided, ‘I’m going to be a 100-meter sprinter,’ you really need to set stretch goals and work on your relative weaknesses.”

2.    Focus on what you’re doing, not on what you’re not doing. Those who consistently think about where they could be or what they could be doing tend to be less gritty and less successful.

3.    Adopt a growth mindset. This outlook (also studied and promoted by Carol Dweck, Ph.D.) is, in Dr. Duckworth’s words, “deep down believing that people can change.” It’s the opposite of a fixed mindset.

4.    Be an optimist. An optimist views personal mistakes and setbacks as temporary and fixable. A pessimist sees them as reflections of deep, immutable flaws. “We find that the more optimistic teachers are better and as a consequence they’re happier and both grit and happiness predict the effectiveness of that teacher one year later,” Dr. Duckworth said.

5.    Find a coach, mentor or partner who doesn’t let you quit. “It’s not just about being gritty,” she said. “It’s about people being gritty for you.”

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