Grit: The Common Trait of Great People

What do you think is the key to success? There are some possible answers to this question, but recently I became interested in one of them: grit. I have read about its importance many times, so I decided to learn more about it.

My main source is a paper entitled Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals. Here are some facts about grit from the paper:

  • Grit is defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals.
  • Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress.
  • The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina.
  • A characteristic of grit is consistent goals and interests.
  • Follow-through, a term used in another study, captured the essence of grit: “The follow-through rating involved evidence of purposeful, continuous commitment to certain types of activities versus sporadic efforts in diverse areas.”

Reading the paper, I agree that grit is essential for success. I have read the stories of many great individuals, and all of them – without fail – exhibit this quality.

So, how can we develop grit? How can we become more gritty?

From what I have learned, here are some ways to develop it:

1. Have a mission you believe in.

This, I believe, is the most important factor. If you want to become gritty, you must have a mission you believe in. You must have a strong ‘why.’ That’s how you can have consistent goals and effort over years. That’s how you can keep moving forward despite failures. That’s how you can have passion for your goals.

So find a mission you believe in. Find what it is that resonates with you. If you find it, failures and setbacks can’t stop you.

2. Set audacious, long-term goals.

With your mission in mind, set some long-term goals. But don’t forget: your goals should be big. Set the so-called Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). That’s the kind of goals that great companies have, and you should too.

3. Prepare yourself for a marathon.

Success in any field requires years of effort, so don’t expect instant success. Instead, prepare yourself for a long, long race. That way you won’t be disappointed if you don’t get what you want early on.

4. Anticipate setbacks.

Setbacks are a normal part of the journey. What makes the difference between winners and losers is not the lack of setbacks, but how they respond to them. Losers will stop, while winners will keep moving forward.

Anticipate setbacks so that you can respond to them correctly.

5. Spend your energy wisely.

The race is a marathon, not a sprint, so you must spend your energy wisely. Don’t be so intense that you get burned out. Instead, take time for renewal and recovery. Remember: the key here is stamina.

6. Keep your mission in mind.

It’s not easy to be consistent over years; there will be many distractions along the way. So keep your mission in mind. Take time to review it regularly, and keep taking action.


I’m glad I spent the time to learn about grit. It was time well spent for me. Now that I have learned about it, I’ve decided to have more passion and perseverance for my long-term goals. I hope you do too.


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Photo by Harry Thomas Photography


  1. The link isn’t working. Could you please repost it ? I really would like to read this paper.
    Thanks for what you write.

  2. Really useful post.The combination of passion and perserverance are what makes goals happen. You have to care about it and you have to be determined. That makes it important ot know our passions, set goals for them and work on our strenght of persistance through continued training of ourselves to get through the tough times.

  3. Great article! Keep up the great work!

  4. I just love this! And I agree, having a mission is number 1!

  5. Good stuff Donald. Couldn’t agree with you more that having a strong “why” is a big part of becoming more gritty.

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