Reflection on GRIT by Angela Duckworth

I had a wonderful start of the day. Thanks to my new, fantastic AuPair the apartment is clean and shiny which allows me to truly relax after an intense workweek. So I lied in bed until 9:30 reading one of the books that have lied for too long on my night table. 

I chose Grit by Angela Duckworth. 

I've only read the first 2 chapters now, but I find her findings fascinating but not at all surprising. Having grit myself, following the path of understanding why we do what we do as human beings, especially leaders, and then in particular higher ambition leaders, with the mission to contribute to a world where we will hopefully value things differently than we do now, I do agree with her findings about how passion and resilience are key factors contributing to success. 

But then I wonder - what is success?

In her examples so far success has been defined by some outer standards, such as admissions to prestigious universities or programmes, and different kinds of tests. I find it a poor definition, but will not go deeper into that at this time.

On the other hand, there are two things I want to bring up after reading those 2 first chapters. One relates how grit connects to authenticity, and then grit as a result of meaningfulness.  

How does grit connect to authenticity? 

"In sum, no matter the domain, the highly successful had a kind of ferocious determination that played out in two ways. First, these exemplars were unusually resilient and hardworking. Second, they knew in a very, very deep way what it was what they wanted. They not only had determination, they had direction." (p. 8)

This is something I highly relate to, and then the direction is a key. 

BUT (because there is always a but!)

Direction is not the same as direction. Looking at my findings from studying the difference between higher ambition leaders and other comparing groups, that direction must be an authentic road reflected by your prioritised values. My hypothesis is that there is a great distinction between having a clear direction that is constructed by others, and having a clear direction that authentically reflects your core values, shaping who you are and your purpose (given that each of everyone of us have a purpose in this world, which I truly believe). So the piece that I'm missing (so far, maybe it comes later in the book?) is the connection of authenticity to grit. 

Do you truly care? Grit as a result of meaningfulness.

The second thing I want to reflect around is her text about the value added by McKinsey consultants to companies. 

"There were probably lots of good reasons CEO's brought in McKinsey. But among them, I think, was that we were supposed to be sharper than the people who were already on site. Hiring McKinsey meant hiring the very "best and brightest"  - as if being the brightest also made us the best." (p. 29)

I think this is very important to reflect over. I see it a lot in the context of big companies that consultants are brought in to solve hard internal problems. To get a professional outside perspective and build on market knowledge and experience is nothing bad. But I know for sure that as a leader I won't be taking this approach, to hire in consultants based on their merits, IQ, experience, or other traits that will allow them to success in the context of solving difficult tasks. When working with people to solve hard challenges there is one thing above everything else that matters to me: Do they truly care?

So what I do at first is to understand why people are here. What in their story has driven them towards this problem that we are trying to solve. And if their values, and their stories behind their values, resonate with this challenge, and that they find meaning in solving it - I know they are the right people to be there. No matter of prior accomplishments, IQ or title. Because if it matters to them, they will have the grit to make it through all the challenges that will await. And the more people who care working together with their different background, experiences and worldview, the more relevant and valuable the end result will be to the many people.

So what's the difference between having a solution by the "smartest" people and the people who care? We will not only have a good solution that works, we will have a truly valuable solutions that will make a positive impact on the world!


I look forward to continue reading and reflecting in writings.

It's truly a wonderful feeling to finally being able to prioritise things like reading, writing and working out - which is what I will do now. A long bike ride outside in the nature is awaiting ending in the gym with some strength training. Those are some of the things that makes me feel good.