by Angela Duckworth

Troy Shu
Troy Shu
Updated at: May 15, 2024

Discover the key insights from "Grit" and learn how to cultivate perseverance, overcome challenges, and lead with gratitude. Actionable questions help you apply the book's lessons. Get your copy now!

What are the big ideas?

Grit Begins with Your Story

Grit development starts by embracing your personal story, recognizing how your life experiences shape your values and purpose. This self-awareness fuels determination and perseverance.

Circle of Support Enhances Grit

Building grit goes beyond individual effort; it involves creating a supportive community. Surrounding yourself with encouraging and helpful people is crucial for overcoming challenges.

Practice Makes Grittier

Regularly challenging yourself with increasingly difficult tasks is essential for building grit, akin to muscle development through progressive exercise.

Moderate Pressure Maximizes Performance

A balanced level of pressure can significantly improve performance by motivating and challenging individuals, contrasting the detrimental effects of excessive pressure.

Recognize When to Quit

Understanding when perseverance is futile highlights the importance of assessing whether continued effort is beneficial or detrimental, underscoring the nuanced nature of grit.

Leadership Through Gratitude, Compassion, Pride

Effective leadership involves fostering gratitude, compassion, and pride among employees, leading to enhanced dedication, perseverance, and team cohesion.

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Grit Begins with Your Story

Grit is built on a foundation of self-awareness. The first step to developing grit is to own your personal story. Reflect on how your life experiences have shaped your values and purpose. This deep understanding of who you are and what drives you is the fuel for determination and perseverance.

When you recognize your core purpose, you gain clarity on the long-term goals that matter most to you. This sense of meaning and direction provides the motivation to push through challenges and setbacks. Embracing your story empowers you to stay the course, even when the path ahead is difficult.

Grit is not an innate quality, but a skill that can be cultivated. By starting with self-reflection and aligning your actions with your deeper purpose, you can strengthen your ability to overcome obstacles and achieve your aspirations. Grit begins with knowing yourself - the rest follows from there.

Here are examples from the context that support the key insight that grit development starts by embracing your personal story:

  • Shannon Huffman Polson discusses how she grew up talking about grit with her dad, and that it became an important part of who she is and how she approaches life and challenges. This personal story and upbringing shaped her understanding and development of grit.

  • Polson recounts a story from when she was 9 or 10 years old, playing soccer. Her dad asked her "Why don't you just run back at her?" when an opposing player was dominating the field. This story illustrates how Polson's father instilled the idea of facing fears and pushing through difficulties, which are key aspects of grit.

  • Polson emphasizes the importance of "owning your own story" as the first phase in building grit. This self-awareness and recognition of one's personal experiences is foundational to developing grit.

The key terms illustrated here are:

  • Personal story: One's life experiences and upbringing that shape one's values and purpose
  • Self-awareness: Understanding how one's personal story influences one's mindset and behaviors

Circle of Support Enhances Grit

To build grit, you need to cultivate a circle of support. Surrounding yourself with a team of encouraging and helpful people is crucial for overcoming challenges. When times get tough, you can't rely on individual effort alone - you need the backing of a supportive community.

Having the right people in your corner provides accountability, motivation, and practical assistance. They can offer fresh perspectives, share resources, and pick you up when you stumble. Tapping into this network of support helps you persist through difficulties and stay focused on your long-term goals.

Building this circle of support takes intentionality. Identify the people in your life who uplift and empower you, and make an effort to strengthen those relationships. Likewise, distance yourself from those who are overly critical or unsupportive. Curating your inner circle in this way fortifies your grit and resilience.

Here are examples from the context that support the key insight that a circle of support enhances grit:

  • Shannon Huffman Polson emphasizes the importance of "developing your team, or drawing your circle" when building grit. She states that "the people who don't support you should be outside of it. But you need to have a team. None of us do this alone. That is critical when times get tough."

  • Polson notes that a common misunderstanding about grit is that it is an "individual quality." However, she explains that "both the mentality and the reality of that aren't sustainable. It might be something we can do in the short term, but it's not a sustainable solution for the long run." Building a supportive team is crucial.

  • Polson borrows from the Army's "master resilience training program" which emphasizes that to build grit and resilience, "you need to do hard things" and challenge yourself, but that this is "absolutely something that is accessible to every single one of us" - not just an individual effort.

  • The context highlights how leading healthcare institutions like Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic cultivate "organizational grit" by aligning individual goals with the broader institutional mission and creating a culture of shared purpose and commitment to patient care. This collective, team-based approach is essential for grit.

Practice Makes Grittier

To build grit, you must challenge yourself with increasingly difficult tasks. This is similar to how you build physical muscle through progressive exercise. Just as your muscles grow stronger when you gradually increase the intensity and difficulty of your workouts, your mental fortitude and determination - your grit - can be developed by regularly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

Start small and take on tasks that are slightly more challenging than what you're used to. As you succeed at those, gradually increase the difficulty. This progressive approach helps you build the resilience and perseverance that define grit. Each time you overcome a new obstacle, you'll gain confidence and the belief that you can tackle even tougher challenges in the future. Consistent practice of taking on hard things is the key to cultivating true grit.

Here are examples from the context that support the key insight that regularly challenging yourself with increasingly difficult tasks is essential for building grit:

  • Shannon Huffman Polson recounts a story from her childhood where her father challenged her to run back at an opposing player on the soccer field, even though she was afraid. She did it, and the player never charged her side of the field again. This shows how facing a difficult challenge head-on can build grit.

  • Polson explains that "to get better at doing hard things, you need to do hard things." She says you should "take one step, challenge yourself a little bit more the next time, and the next, and the next." This gradual progression of taking on increasingly difficult tasks is described as "truly how you build up a muscle for grit and resilience."

  • The context discusses the Army's "master resilience training program" which teaches specific techniques for building grit by progressively challenging oneself. This structured approach of taking on harder tasks over time is presented as an effective way to develop grit.

  • The passage notes that "the more skilled you are at something, the more you're able to translate external or situational pressure into a performance-enhancing ingredient." This suggests that regularly practicing and improving at challenging tasks can transform pressure into a positive force that builds grit.

Moderate Pressure Maximizes Performance

Moderate pressure can maximize performance. A balanced level of pressure motivates and challenges individuals, boosting their abilities. In contrast, excessive pressure has detrimental effects, hindering performance.

Top athletes and professional musicians often perform better in competitions or live shows compared to practice sessions. The pressure of the situation enhances their focus and drive. However, if pressure exceeds an individual's optimal threshold, it can negatively impact performance by distracting their attention, lowering confidence, and causing stress and anxiety.

Understanding your personal pressure tolerance is key. Evaluate your reactions in high-stakes situations and seek feedback from trusted colleagues. Identify your specific pressure triggers and practice managing your responses. With the right amount of pressure, you can leverage it to enhance your abilities and achieve greater success.

Here are examples from the context that support the key insight that moderate pressure maximizes performance:

  • Research shows that a moderate amount of pressure can actually boost performance. This is why top athletes generally perform better in competitions than in training, and why professional musicians are more motivated if they're in front of an audience than rehearsing at home. The more skilled you are at something, the more you're able to translate external or situational pressure into a performance-enhancing ingredient.

  • However, when pressure levels exceed the optimal threshold, they can negatively impact performance. Pressure can do this by hijacking focus and attention, lowering confidence, and causing stress and anxiety. For example, research found that up to 60% of students experience test anxiety during exams, and 93% of people feel anxious in job interviews.

  • The Yerkes-Dodson law is an established finding in psychology that demonstrates this relationship between arousal/pressure and performance - moderate levels of pressure enhance performance, but excessive pressure leads to deterioration in performance.

So in summary, the context provides evidence that a balanced, moderate level of pressure can boost performance, while excessive pressure has detrimental effects. The key is finding the optimal level of pressure that challenges and motivates without overwhelming the individual.

Recognize When to Quit

Recognize When to Quit

Grit and perseverance are often praised, but there are times when quitting is the better choice. The ability to assess when continued effort is no longer beneficial is just as important as the determination to push through challenges.

Sometimes, people stubbornly persist even when a task is unrewarding or a goal is unattainable. This can lead to wasted time and resources. Knowing when to let go and explore better alternatives is a crucial skill. Remaining fixated on a losing course of action can be dangerous, causing people to double down on failing strategies.

Quitting does not have to mean giving up entirely. It can mean redirecting your energy towards more promising opportunities. The key is being able to objectively evaluate the costs and benefits of continuing versus quitting. This nuanced understanding of when to be gritty and when to quit is essential for long-term success.

Here are examples from the context that support the key insight of recognizing when to quit:

  • The story of Vontae Davis, the NFL player who abruptly retired at halftime of a game, illustrates how sometimes quitting can be the right decision, even if it is unconventional. The context notes that "many were outraged, including Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander: 'It's just completely disrespectful to his teammates.' But some disagreed, saying Davis was 'a goddamn working class hero.'"

  • Research shows that perseverance can have a "harmful downside" - people may continue with "worthless tasks that are both uninteresting and unrewarding, ultimately wasting their time and talents." The context cites a study where people who said they were very persistent continued a "very boring task" despite there being "little to be gained in terms of monetary reward."

  • The example of Minor League Baseball players illustrates how remaining fixated on a long-cherished goal can mean ignoring better alternatives. The context notes that "only about 11% of players will make that transition" to the major leagues, while "the other 89% are left languishing for years" when they could find more secure and lucrative employment elsewhere.

  • Research has found that an "unwillingness to let go can lead to people being perpetually dissatisfied - even when they end up getting what they thought they wanted." A study of graduating college students found that those who were most focused on getting the "best" job ended up more dissatisfied, despite earning higher salaries.

The key point is that while grit and perseverance are often touted as virtues, there are times when it is better to recognize when continued effort is futile or detrimental, and to have the wisdom to quit and pursue more beneficial alternatives.

Leadership Through Gratitude, Compassion, Pride

As a leader, cultivating gratitude, compassion, and pride in your team is crucial for driving success. These three powerful emotions not only boost individual grit and perseverance, but also strengthen social bonds and cooperation within the organization.

When employees feel grateful, they become more willing to go the extra mile to help others and support the team's goals, even at a personal cost. Compassion inspires them to devote time, effort, and resources to aid their colleagues. And authentic pride - based on their abilities rather than ego - motivates them to work harder to solve problems and contribute to the team's achievements.

By intentionally fostering these positive emotions, leaders can create a culture where people value future rewards over immediate gratification, and are intrinsically motivated to persist through challenges. This emotional foundation also helps address the growing problem of workplace loneliness, as gratitude, compassion, and pride naturally encourage more communal and supportive behaviors.

Ultimately, leaders who cultivate gratitude, compassion, and pride in their teams will see increased productivity, resilience, and overall well-being among their employees. This approach taps into the powerful connection between emotions, grit, and social connection - the key ingredients for organizational success.

Here are examples from the context that support the key insight about leadership through gratitude, compassion, and pride:

  • Gratitude: The context describes a study where fundraisers who received a visit from the director expressing gratitude for their work increased their fundraising efforts by 50% in the following week, compared to a control group. This shows how expressing gratitude can boost employee performance and dedication.

  • Compassion: The context cites a study of employees in a long-term care facility, where those who worked in units characterized by higher feelings of "social attachment, trust, acceptance, and support" - i.e. compassion - showed superior performance, engagement, satisfaction, and lower absenteeism. This demonstrates how cultivating compassion can improve employee well-being and productivity.

  • Pride: The context explains that people induced to feel pride are willing to persevere over 30% longer on challenging tasks compared to those feeling other positive emotions. This illustrates how fostering authentic pride can enhance employee grit and perseverance.

  • The context also describes how the benefits of these positive emotions can feed off each other - for example, the gratitude managers express can stoke employees' pride, further boosting their efforts.

  • Key terms like "grit" (perseverance and passion for long-term goals) and "grace" (qualities of decency, respect, and generosity) are explained as important for effective leadership and team success.


Let's take a look at some key quotes from "Grit" that resonated with readers.

Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.

Many people can muster excitement and energy at the beginning of a project or endeavor, but it's the ones who can sustain that effort over time, through obstacles and setbacks, who truly achieve their goals. Initial enthusiasm is not enough; it's the ability to persevere and keep going that separates those who succeed from those who don't. This quality of persistence and dedication is what sets apart the achievers from the dreamers.

Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another.

Having natural talent or abilities is not enough; it's what we choose to do with them that truly matters. Our potential is merely a starting point, and it's our actions and decisions that ultimately shape who we become and what we achieve. It's the effort we put in, the challenges we overcome, and the choices we make that turn our potential into reality.

...there are no shortcuts to excellence. Developing real expertise, figuring out really hard problems, it all takes time

Achieving exceptional results requires dedication and perseverance. There is no quick fix or easy path to success; instead, it demands a long-term commitment to learning, practicing, and overcoming challenges. True mastery takes time, effort, and resilience, and those who are willing to put in the work will ultimately reap the rewards.

Comprehension Questions

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How well do you understand the key insights in "Grit"? Find out by answering the questions below. Try to answer the question yourself before revealing the answer! Mark the questions as done once you've answered them.

1. What is the first step to developing grit according to the foundational ideas discussed?
2. How does understanding one’s personal story contribute to developing grit?
3. Why is it important to align your actions with your deeper purpose when cultivating grit?
4. How can embracing your personal story empower you during difficult times?
5. Why is it important to surround yourself with a supportive community when facing challenges?
6. How can building a circle of support impact a person's resilience?
7. What steps should be taken to effectively build a circle of support?
8. How does facing progressively harder challenges relate to the development of mental resilience and perseverance?
9. What is the importance of starting with manageable challenges when attempting to build grit?
10. How can consistent practice of difficult tasks affect one's ability to handle pressure?
11. What is the impact of moderate pressure on individual performance?
12. How does excessive pressure affect performance?
13. What can individuals do to find their optimal level of pressure for maximum performance?
14. What principle explains the relationship between pressure and performance, and what does it state?
15. Why might it be beneficial to quit a task or goal, even if perseverance is typically valued?
16. What is the danger of remaining fixated on a failing course of action?
17. How does understanding when to quit differ from simply giving up?
18. How can expressing gratitude influence employee behavior in a team environment?
19. What are the effects of cultivating compassion in the workplace?
20. How does fostering authentic pride contribute to employee performance?
21. Why is it important for leaders to foster gratitude, compassion, and pride?
22. What are the broader benefits of encouraging gratitude, compassion, and pride in a team setting?

Action Questions

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"Knowledge without application is useless," Bruce Lee said. Answer the questions below to practice applying the key insights from "Grit". Mark the questions as done once you've answered them.

1. Reflect on a past challenge where you persevered. What aspects of your personal history helped you overcome this difficulty?
2. How can identifying and understanding your core values and motivations help you in pursuing your long-term goals?
3. How can you identify and cultivate relationships with individuals who positively impact your resilience and perseverance?
4. What small, challenging task can you undertake this week to step out of your comfort zone, and how will you escalate these challenges over time?
5. How can you adjust your current workload or tasks to ensure you are operating under moderate pressure?
6. What strategies can you implement to handle and adjust to pressure in high stakes situations to maintain or enhance your performance?
7. How can you assess and redefine your personal pressure thresholds to optimize your performance in various aspects of your life?
8. How can you proactively reassess your current projects to identify if they are worth continuing or if your energy should be redirected elsewhere?
9. What signs might indicate that it's more advantageous to stop pursuing a specific goal and start exploring other opportunities?
10. In your current personal or professional life, identify a commitment that may no longer be serving you well. How would you go about deciding to discontinue this commitment?
11. How can you incorporate expressions of gratitude within your team to enhance cooperation and performance?
12. What strategies can you use to foster a culture of compassion in your workplace that encourages support and trust among team members?

Chapter Notes

1. To Build Grit, Go Back to Basics

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Grit is defined as "a dogged determination in the face of difficult circumstances" or "passion and perseverance toward long-term goals". This quality is essential for facing stress, pushing through difficulties, and overcoming obstacles both at work and in life.

  • Building grit starts with recognizing and owning your personal story. Understanding the raw material of your life experiences and how they inform your core values and purpose can help you draw on your strengths to overcome future challenges.

  • Focusing on your core purpose or "deep why" is crucial for developing grit. Drilling down to understand your fundamental motivations and values, beyond just the specific task or job, can provide the drive to persist through difficulties.

  • Grit is not just an individual quality, but requires building a supportive team or "circle". Having a group of people who can provide encouragement and assistance is critical when facing setbacks, as none of us can develop grit entirely on our own.

  • To build grit, you need to actively practice doing hard things. Like building a muscle, grit is developed by incrementally challenging yourself, taking on tasks that are slightly more difficult each time. This "learn" phase is essential for strengthening your grit over the long-term.

  • Grit is distinct from, but complementary to, the concept of resilience. While grit is about persistence and determination, resilience is about the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt to change, and grow stronger through adversity.

2. Gauging Your Grit

  • Grit Assessment: The chapter provides a self-assessment tool to measure an individual's level of "grit" - a personality trait characterized by perseverance and passion for long-term goals. The assessment involves answering 10 questions on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 represents "very much like me" and 5 represents "not at all like me".

  • Grit Percentiles: The chapter includes a reference to percentiles that allow individuals to compare their grit score with a pool of more than 5,000 American adults. For example, a score of 4.5 or higher would indicate that the individual is grittier than 90% of the test takers.

  • Grit as a Predictor of Success: The chapter suggests that grit, as a personality trait, can be a predictor of success in various domains, such as academic and professional achievements. The authors, Thomas H. Lee and Angela Duckworth, are experts in the field of grit and its importance in organizational and individual performance.

  • Importance of Honesty: The chapter emphasizes the importance of answering the grit assessment questions honestly, without overthinking or trying to guess the "right" answer. The more honest the responses, the more accurate the results will be in reflecting the individual's true level of grit.

  • Grit as a Learnable Skill: While the chapter does not explicitly state this, the concept of grit suggests that it can be developed and improved over time, as it is a personality trait rather than a fixed characteristic. This implies that individuals can work on cultivating their grit through various strategies and practices.

  • Interdisciplinary Expertise: The chapter highlights the diverse backgrounds of the authors, Thomas H. Lee and Angela Duckworth, who are experts in the fields of health policy, management, and psychology. This interdisciplinary approach suggests that the concept of grit has relevance and applications across various domains.

3. How to Deal with High-Pressure Situations at Work

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Moderate Pressure Can Boost Performance: A moderate amount of pressure can actually enhance performance, as it can motivate and challenge individuals. This is why top athletes and professional musicians often perform better in competitions or in front of an audience compared to practice sessions.

  • Excessive Pressure Can Negatively Impact Performance: When pressure levels exceed an individual's optimal threshold, it can negatively impact their performance by distracting their focus, lowering their confidence, and causing stress and anxiety. This is evident in situations like exams, job interviews, and public speaking.

  • Understand Your Pressure Tolerance: Individuals have varying levels of emotional stability and ability to cope with pressure. Understanding your personal pressure triggers and stress tolerance level is the first step in managing high-pressure situations. Seeking feedback from trusted colleagues and friends can help you gain self-awareness in this regard.

  • Identify and Practice Managing Pressure Triggers: Once you've identified your specific pressure triggers, you can take steps to minimize or manage them. This may involve planning ahead, establishing communication norms, and practicing in similar situations to build familiarity and reduce anxiety.

  • Utilize Coping Strategies in the Moment: When facing unavoidable high-pressure situations, you can employ various strategies to manage your response, such as breathing exercises, mindfulness, physical exercise, and cognitive reappraisal. Embracing vulnerability and honesty can also be an effective tactic.

  • Embrace Pressure as a Means for Growth: Completely avoiding pressure is not recommended, as it can hinder your personal and professional development. Facing and overcoming challenges with appropriate pressure can help you build strength, grit, and resilience, and push you to achieve greater things.

4. How to Convince Yourself to Do Hard Things

  • Expediency Bias: The tendency to rush to judgment and make decisions quickly without properly considering all the variables, due to the brain's desire to save mental energy.

  • Fluency Principle: The brain's preference for processing existing ideas over new ones, making it easier to go with what "feels right" rather than exploring new and challenging paths.

  • Hedonic Principle: The brain's wiring to move towards things that make us feel good and away from things that make us uncomfortable, leading us to avoid effort and hard work.

  • Reappraisal: A technique to shift our brain's perception of a task, by using a simple, sticky word or phrase that labels where we want to be, which can help us tackle hard things when we're in a good mood.

  • Autonomy and Incentives: Providing our brains with the right amount of autonomy and challenging ourselves to be innovative, while also offering incentives, can help mitigate the brain's default response to choose the easy option.

  • Growth Mindset Habits: Practicing the habits of a growth mindset, such as acknowledging progress and continuing to experiment, can help us challenge patterns or systems that inhibit new habits from taking hold, especially with the support of others.

5. “Mentors Were What Helped Me Survive”

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Misty Copeland's Passion for Ballet: Copeland chose ballet as a career because it provided her with a sense of structure, discipline, and an outlet from her challenging upbringing. She was immediately drawn to the art form and saw it as her future, despite starting at a later age compared to her peers.

  • Overcoming Challenges as a Black Ballerina: As a Black girl entering a predominantly white field, Copeland faced significant challenges, including microaggressions and the pressure of being a role model. However, she navigated these obstacles by learning from mentors, being strategic in her approach, and staying true to herself.

  • The Importance of Mentors: Copeland credits her mentors, particularly Black women in the ballet world, for helping her survive and thrive in her career. These mentors provided guidance, support, and a sense of community, which was crucial for Copeland as the only Black female principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre for the first decade of her career.

  • Perseverance and Resilience: Despite setbacks, such as her body changing during her late teens and early injuries, Copeland remained persistent and resilient. She did not allow herself to be discouraged by the challenges and instead focused on continuing to learn, grow, and work towards her goals.

  • Advice for Up-and-Coming Dancers: Copeland advises young dancers to focus on the work they are putting in, rather than seeking external validation or endorsements. She emphasizes the importance of being prepared, focused, and grounded in order to become the dancer and artist they aspire to be.

6. When to Grit—and When to Quit

  • Perseverance and Grit: Perseverance, or the capacity to stick to a task, particularly when faced with difficulties, has been found to be a crucial factor in explaining the success of individuals in various domains, from spelling bees to military training. This concept is known as "grit" in psychology.

  • Growth Mindset: Research by Carol Dweck suggests that people who treat challenges and limitations as opportunities to develop and learn tend to perform better in the long run. They persist when faced with challenges, and this leads to a deeper and wider skill set.

  • Limitations of Perseverance: However, other research has challenged the benefits of perseverance. A meta-analysis found only a moderate correlation between grit and performance, and another study found no link between growth mindsets and test scores.

  • Harmful Downsides of Perseverance: Perseverance can have harmful downsides, such as people persisting even when there is nothing to be gained, ignoring better alternatives, and becoming perpetually dissatisfied. It can also lead to people being trapped in losing courses of action, which can be dangerous.

  • Health Consequences of Perseverance: Being unable to let go of cherished but unachievable goals can also be detrimental to mental and physical health, leading to increased stress, symptoms of depression, and physical health issues.

  • Weighing the Costs and Benefits: When deciding whether to stick with a task or goal or to let it go, it is important to weigh the potential to continue learning and developing incrementally against the costs, dangers, and myopia that can come with stubborn perseverance.

7. Are You Pushing Yourself Too Hard?

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Overworking is a common issue, with 10% of Americans considered workaholics. Workaholism is defined as a "stable tendency to compulsively and excessively work."

  • Not taking time off is a sign of pushing yourself too hard. This includes consistently putting off vacations, regularly working all weekend, or dismissing the idea of taking time off. Taking breaks, such as weekends or occasional days off, is important for restoring energy and performing at your best.

  • Deprioritizing personal relationships is another sign of overworking. When we focus exclusively on work, it often comes at the expense of our personal relationships. Research shows that strong social relationships are positively correlated with lifespan, and a lack of social relationships can have the same effect as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

  • Being unable to be fully present outside of work is a problem. Constantly thinking about work and being unable to mentally disengage when spending time with loved ones indicates an unhealthy work-life balance.

  • Neglecting personal care, such as sleep, nutrition, and exercise, is a sign of pushing yourself too hard. Sacrificing these basic needs can impair cognitive functions and overall health and productivity.

  • Seeing your value as a person completely defined by work is a concerning mindset. This myopic perspective, driven by limiting beliefs, can be broadened by considering how others value you beyond your work and by having interests outside of work.

  • While intense work periods are sometimes necessary, maintaining a healthy work-life balance and taking care of yourself and your relationships are key to long-term success, both personally and professionally.

8. How to Cultivate Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride

  • Cultivating Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride: As a leader, it is important to cultivate three specific emotions in your employees - gratitude, compassion, and pride. These emotions not only increase patience and perseverance, but also build social bonds and connections within the team.

  • Gratitude and Prosocial Behavior: Feeling grateful makes people more willing to devote effort to help others, be loyal even at a cost to themselves, and split profits equally with partners rather than take more money for themselves. Gratitude also increases the value people place on future goals, leading to greater perseverance.

  • Compassion and Dedication: Compassion builds dedication and engagement among employees. Employees who work in an environment characterized by higher feelings of social attachment, trust, acceptance, and support (i.e., empathy and compassion) show superior performance, increased work satisfaction, less exhaustion, and lower absenteeism.

  • Pride and Persistence: Authentic pride, based on one's abilities, leads to greater perseverance on challenging tasks. This is because pride induces people to place greater value on future rewards, motivating them to work harder to achieve those rewards.

  • Addressing Loneliness: Regularly feeling and expressing gratitude, compassion, and pride can help solve the problem of loneliness in the workplace. These emotions automatically make people behave in more communal and supportive ways, building social connections and relationships.

  • Synergistic Effects: The benefits of gratitude and pride can feed off each other. Expressing gratitude towards employees can stoke their feelings of pride, which in turn bolsters their efforts and performance.

  • Empirical Evidence: Studies have shown that expressing gratitude to employees, such as by a manager to their fundraisers, can increase the employees' performance by up to 50%. Similarly, compassionate work environments lead to better performance, engagement, and well-being among employees.

9. Organizational Grit

Here are the key takeaways from the chapter:

  • Grit Predicts High Achievement: Grit, defined as a combination of passion and perseverance, is a better predictor of success than achievement test scores or athletic ability. Grit predicts who will accomplish challenging goals, graduate from high school and college, and perform well in stressful jobs.

  • Developing Gritty Individuals: Organizations should look for candidates with a clear hierarchy of goals, where a broad, important, and meaningful overarching goal (e.g., improving patients' quality and length of life) guides their specific tasks and mid-level goals. Hiring for grit involves reviewing an applicant's track record for evidence of long-term commitments, advancement, and resilience in the face of failure.

  • Creating a Gritty Environment: Developing gritty employees requires an environment that is both demanding and supportive. Organizations should set high expectations that are clearly defined and feasible, while also providing the psychological safety, trust, and resources for employees to take risks, make mistakes, and continuously learn and grow.

  • Building Gritty Teams: Gritty teams share the same traits as gritty individuals: a desire to work hard, learn, and improve; resilience in the face of setbacks; and a strong sense of priorities and purpose. Effective gritty teams emphasize face-to-face interaction, a shared commitment to a team-specific objective that supports the organization's overarching goal, and mutual trust.

  • Cultivating Organizational Grit: Gritty organizations have a clear, primary goal of putting patients' (or customers') needs first, which is used to guide strategic decisions and translate into practical activities for teams and individuals. Leaders foster a culture of restlessness with the status quo, a growth mindset, and the willingness to learn from crises and patient stories.

  • The Gritty Leader: Gritty leaders personify passion and perseverance, serving as visible, authoritative role models for the rest of the organization. They balance being demanding in maintaining high standards with being supportive in providing the resources and psychological safety for employees to take risks and improve.


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