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The Difference Between Success and Failure is Grit


It isn’t good looks.

It isn’t an Ivy League education.

It isn’t your IQ.

If you strive to be successful – it is going to take grit.

I like to call it flexing your Risk Muscle. Taking on tasks that are outside your comfort zone in order to achieve your ultimate career goals. In a Ted talk Angela Lee Duckworth, a teacher turned psychologist, addresses the crowd with a simple statement that what sets those who succeed from those who don’t is GRIT.

Her research included students from West Point, National Spelling Bees and other institutions of learning, but her results apply to all of us.

If we want to succeed we have to accept that it isn’t going to happen over night and it will require hard work, perseverance and a passion for what you want to achieve.

Paula Davis-Laack, JD, MAPP, is the Founder and CEO of the Davis Laack Stress & Resilience Institute and she has written an article about Grit and Success and offers a few suggestions for how you might develop grit.  One suggestion is to develop a growth mindset.

Develop a growth mindset. People with growth mindsets feel that ability can be developed through hard work and learning, and see failure as an inevitable result of trying new things. As a result, people with a growth mindset try new challenges, take good risks, and use effort as a path to mastering something. In order to foster a growth mindset in others, be mindful of how you praise your students, children, and employees. Praise effort and process (“You tried so hard at that puzzle”) rather than smarts (“I’m so happy that you got an A”). In addition, ask for feedback when a project doesn’t go your way. Feedback is a critical component of developing a growth mindset (Dweck, 2006).

Birgit Ohlin is a passionate marketer and a Positive Psychology Enthusiast and shares additional tips from Carol Dweck for developing grit in her article 5 Ways to Develop Grit.  

 Set Tiny Goals That Align with Your Purpose. People with a sense of purpose are happier. However, your purpose is very abstract and often difficult to define. By creating smaller short term goals which align with your bigger purpose, you increase your success rate and your speed of accomplishing goals. This will keep you motivated to keep persevering.

Angela has developed a questionnaire to help you determine your grit. Check it out here: Grit questionnaire. Watch/listen to Angela’s entire speech here:


JJ DiGeronimo JJ DiGeronimo, a speaker, author and thought-leader for Women in Tech and Girls and STEM, empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract Women in Technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.

Check out JJ’s new award winning book Accelerate Your Impact by downloading three free chapters.accelerate your impact