Angela Duckworth is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the Founder and CEO of Character Lab, a not-for-profit whose mission is to advance, the science and practice of character development and the author of the New York Times bestselling book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Podcast Highlights

  • Who is Angela Duckworth?

Angela grew up in New Jersey with a father that had extremely high standards. Her experience growing up led her to become fascinated by the mechanics of success, character development, and who gets left behind and who gets ahead. She realized that so much of what we do in life is a result of our passion and perseverance.

  • Are entrepreneurs born or made?

Entrepreneurs are mostly made, but they do inherit their genes from their parents. There is a lot to be said about what happens after you are dealt those cards from your parents though, in a lot of ways you are made by your experiences and your mentors.

  • Perseverance, Grit, and Character Development

Angela’s frustration as a teacher is what led her to study grit. Being able to see around the corner and watching her students give up too early led her to want to understand psychology, which is essentially the study of human nature.

It’s never easy to know when you should quit. If your life has a goal it can help you figure out how to approach a problem, if it’s just a means to an end, maybe you can find another means to get to that end.

Grit is often unrelated to talent, success, in the long run, doesn’t seem to correlate to talent as much as to perseverance. The only thing that matters is the mission.

To build a culture of grit in your company you have to model passion and perseverance. Don’t be shy, share your passion that is beyond the 9 to 5. You don’t need to show strength all the time, showing vulnerability and how you came back from a setback is a great way to show dedication.

Angela’s husband told her that if she didn’t write the book about her character development research someone else would, during the process of writing the book she discovered that people who exhibit grit have somebody in their life that believes in and supports them.

  • Outside Motivation

Someone telling you that you can’t do something will often put a fire in your belly, but the question is what happens after success? The people who can continually approach life as if they are an underdog even if they are on top is a signature of people who focus on excellence instead of complacency.

Behind almost every high performer, there is someone who encouraged them and helped guide them towards success.

  • Quitting The Right Things

If your feelings are getting in the way, seek a trusted advisor to give you an outside objective perspective. If your best friend would tell you to get out something, maybe you should.

  • Nurturing Children

Kids are best off when they are challenged and supported. Have a family rule that everyone has to do a hard thing and they aren’t allowed to quit in the middle. Start young and give them a choice in their hard thing and they will learn responsibility.

  • Character Lab

Character Lab is about helping parents and teachers use science to help their children and students with character development and grit. It’s all supported by institutions so all the resources are free.

Reference: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth

  • Angela’s Takeaway

Look for a small win, grit is about the long game. Organize your life so there are daily and hourly small wins. Do something today that you are confident you can do. It will be a micro-step in the direction you want to go, but one micro-step after another is how you start your journey.




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