Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary

Have you ever wondered if you should even insist on some sport or activity even if you do not have a natural talent? Have you ever tried to overcome your discouragement by thinking that you have to work twice as hard as your ‘know-it-all’ co-worker? Everyone has gone through a situation like this, and in ‘Grit to great,’ the authors show us how perseverance and effort surpass any innate talent in any situation! No matter your age, job title or social class, if you work hard, you can achieve whatever you want.

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Current research suggests that there are far more important things to success than talent or natural abilities. Passion and perseverance are far more important than talent or intelligence. For most of us, the highest job is the result of hard work and not exceptional genes. Success is reserved for those who are hard-working, for those who have determination.

Have you ever had the feeling that some people do very well, in various activities, without much effort? At school, some children never study and can get great grades, while others need to study for hours to keep up. But the truth is that people who depend on your talent will not get very far in life.

The talent is overrated. And this is because so many talented people have great potential but realize very early on that they can achieve things without working hard. On the other hand, less talented people struggle for success. They seek the most important goals, not just those in which they are naturally good.

So while it may seem that talented people are the winners in the world, the reality is that those who work hard eventually get further. And this is because as long as talented people dream, the others attain.

The effort is the result of a struggle, a willingness to take risks and a strong sense of determination, working ruthlessly to achieve a goal, accept challenges and have passion and perseverance to achieve difficult things even if you are facing difficult circumstances.

What is most interesting about the effort, is that you can learn to have. Perseverance and the value of hard work, since the days of the Greek philosophers, are considered key elements of the education and creation of the generations. Aristotle said that ‘we are what we do over and over again. Excellence is not an attitude, but a habit. ‘


A famous writer from the Los Angeles Times reviewed several studies related to self-esteem and its effects on humans. She concluded that having high self-esteem does not have positive effects on children – it does not affect school grades or antisocial behavior, for example. In fact, she found that telling children that they are intelligent can be counterproductive. And this is because when the child believes that he is a genius, he usually tries less in his activities.

And this has an important implication: when a child, who was raised believing he has an innate talent, is overcome by someone, may want to give up instead of striving to improve.

That’s why everyone can benefit from learning to persevere. And the US Department of Education has understood this: they are encouraging the teaching of effort and resilience to American students.

Bob Deutsch, an American neuroscientist, says that effort and perseverance are skills that can be taught with right training, experience, and practice.

Think, for example, of Steve Jobs. He was fired in 1985 from his own company, Apple. And instead of giving up, his return was triumphant and made the organization a big success. He even stated in interviews that being fired turned out to be a great opportunity.

Michael Bloomberg, one of the richest men in the world with a fortune estimated at $ 30 billion, also recognizes and values ​​hard work as superior to talent. In an interview for New York magazine, he said: ‘I know what it means to work hard. And my strategy will always be this: I’m not the smartest guy, but I can overcome you by working harder than you. That’s the only thing I can control. ‘


After much research and their own experiences, the authors broke the effort and determination of four main ingredients:

Courage: the effort begins with the courage to face a complicated challenge and not to hesitate even with the difficulties. Courage gives you the confidence to take calculated risks and to be audacious.

Resilience: some of the most impressive people we know, have dropped out of school, been laid off from their jobs, or have had to face adversity. But they did not give up on that.Think of Jerry Seinfeld; he was booed on stage during his first stand-up show. Steven Spielberg was only accepted in the film course after three attempts. But neither of them let humiliation or failure diminish their convictions. Hardworking and determined people can stay focused even when faced with failures and obstacles.

Initiative: It’s what keeps you moving. And it is what makes the effort something dynamic.

Persistence: it is the ability to stay focused on your goal. This is the most commonly associated trait characteristic. Studies by Anders Ericsson of Florida State University have concluded that it takes at least ten years to master a skill at its highest levels and to reach maximum potential.


When artist Nick Wallenda crossed the Grand Canyon on a long wire of 430 meters, he stumbled and had no safety net underneath to hold him. But he did not fall. Instead, he used his skill and his intensive training and managed to stand on the wire.

And just like Nick, in some moments of your career, you will need to lose the ‘safety net.’ And this is because if you have passion and determination, your career will take off; and if you want to succeed, you will need to leave the security zone. And then people with determination begin to take calculated risks and plunge into the unknown.

But that does not mean you should accept every situation that comes up. For example, if you are the CEO of a company trying to enter a new market, it is essential that you know the risks and your competitors first; there is nothing worse than not understanding your potential risks and taking your company to the hole.

However, if you fall, the determination will help you learn from rejection. For example, you want to be an entrepreneur, but you can not face investors for fear of being rejected. You need to keep in mind that although rejection bothers you, you can always think of it from a positive perspective.

Think of Jia Jiang, who laid aside the security of his job, and inspired by Steve Jobs, began to undertake. He was rejected many times and was about to give up, but instead, he turned the rejection into an advantage and began a project called ‘100 Days of Rejection’. Jiang tried to do a different task every day for 100 days – such as asking for a shrimp room in a restaurant or borrowing $ 100 from a stranger – all of these things helped him overcome his fear of rejection.

He put his project online and became famous in the process. After that, he wrote a book and spoke at TED Talks.


Did you know that Van Gogh only sold a painting after his death? It may seem shocking, as his paintings impress art lovers all over the world and are sold at exorbitant prices. But even without recognition during his lifetime, Van Gogh produced more than 2,000 paintings.

Most projects take time to show real progress, and even more, time to succeed. As a result, many people lose their motivation and patience halfway, and so they give up. But there is another option.

You can stay motivated during long-term projects rejoicing with small achievements on the way. For example, Attorney Mike Moore, who was famous for his struggles against Big Tobacco, spent years trying to hold large tobacco conglomerates accountable for countless cancer-related deaths. But his attempts were rejected numerous times by different prosecutors.

Over the years, however, he slowly built a team and was motivated by small measures of support he received from other prosecutors. Finally, he was able to get tobacco companies to pay $ 100 billion to 46 states, covering the medical costs of smokers.

But some people will feel that over the years, things get more difficult. Therefore, it is essential that you increase your motivation and not get used to it. Instead, make productive use of your time in planning each year. Do not let an attitude of disability dominate your decisions, and never feel that you are too old to do the things you want. You are not too old, and you will never be.

For example, Captain James Henry, who was raised on a farm and became a fisherman, only learned to read after 90 years of age. Not only that, but he wrote an autobiographical bestseller called ‘In a Fisherman’s Language’ at age 98.


We have all experienced failure, and we know how difficult it is. However, your failures do not define you, and you need to learn to deal with them. Even famous poker players lose a few games, but the best player knows how to learn from their mistakes and grow from them.

And this is not only true for poker players. No matter what you do, in your career, you will face failure and other obstacles, but all challenges should be understood as an opportunity to learn and improve. For example, Eleanor Longden was diagnosed with schizophrenia after hearing voices in her head.

But she did not let her illness defeat her. Instead, she started studying psychology, became a doctor, and is now on the board of a global research and support organization that helps people with the same illness as her.

However, overcoming adversities does not mean that your determination must come from the fear of losing everything. In fact, people with determination are not successful because they fear failure, but because they see what they can gain by achieving their goals.

This way of thinking allows people with the determination to conquer things that seem impossible and overcome any challenge. For example, Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job as a television anchor because her boss did not believe she had a TV appearance. But she did not give up. She was determined to be successful, and we all know what happened: she became one of the greatest stars in television history.


Despite having a rigid body, the bamboos are very flexible because of the hollow interior. They sway even with the slightest breeze. Still, they may be the only thing standing after a typhoon, because its roots are firm and deep. Bamboos can weather extreme winter and summer temperatures and are considered one of the fastest growing plants in the world. Unlike other woods used for building furniture, bamboo does not need much finishing. What do we mean by that? You can learn many things from bamboo, such as tackling obstacles with stamina, but maintaining flexibility and confidence and adapting to change.

And it is clear that flexibility and adaptability are essential elements of the effort. We live in a world where innovation and change are at an ever-increasing pace. How we react when faced with a change in scenarios is affected by our sense of effort and determination.

Optimism as a Tool for Effort

To think that optimism is a learned quality may come as a surprise to many. Psychologist Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania has studied the power of optimism for many years. His research suggests that optimism is a learned trait – and pessimism too!

In 1960, Seligman’s research group conducted a study that gave mildly painful shocks to dogs, rats, and cockroaches, to test for resilience. After a while, the animals realized that they had no control over the shocks, so they began to accept the situation without trying to escape.

The researchers performed the same test with humans. In this case, participants who were divided into three groups were forced to listen to very loud music. The people in the first group could press a button to stop the music and those of the second group, although they made several attempts, they were not able to turn off the music. The last group was the control group; they did not have to listen to the music.

The next day, each person would hear a sound and all he had to do to make the sound stop was to move his hands. People in the first and last group realized this quickly. But the people in the second group, who were conditioned to believe that they had no control over the loud music of the previous day, did nothing.

And these results have confirmed the fact that pessimism and optimism can be learned! But what does this have to do with determination and effort?

Think about a pessimistic seller. After a few weeks or months without success, he may give up or start working with much less enthusiasm. College students who get a bad grade in a class may believe they are not smart enough to do well. In all cases, a person’s talent or aptitude is often less important than her attitude – optimism and the ability to work hard to improve are essential.


Have you ever wondered how the human being of thousands of years ago could survive in diseases and wildlife? The key to their success was group work: helping each other, sharing food, and enhancing the quality of life of the other; were essential characteristics for the development of the first human communities. The same goes for today.

Helping others will increase their motivation. For example, have you ever helped an elderly person carry heavy bags? Have you offered a blanket, shelter or food for a homeless person? If you’ve done these things or anything like that, you’ve probably felt a better person and experienced a wave of gratification.

Well, that bonus can increase your resolve. For example, Navy Salen was a housewife with three children. One day she decided to help African children suffering from malnutrition. It took years to build an NGO and to have the support it needs to expand its network, but after years of investing time and money, it now can help more than 2.5 million children in 44 countries.

So helping others can help you do impossible things and also help you shape your character and meet new people. And this is because helping others will give you a deeper connection to your own emotions and personality. For example, you will understand that you can act with altruism and generosity. But you will also meet other people like you who want to collaborate – and this will take your work to the next level.

Not only that but when you meet people who share your values, why not offer them motivation as well? It’s easy; you can teach others to be generous, resilient, and persevere. The result will generate greater motivation for all involved.


Effort and perseverance are great tools for achieving success in anyone’s life. No matter the moment, the background or the resources you have. Those who do not tire or give up with defeats, who are resilient and relentless, who take initiatives and persevere, are the true winners.

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