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Grittiness greater than talent?

By Staff | Sep 6, 2013

I have seen first-hand how important grittiness is in predicting future success for students. I am very interested in understanding how some students make it against all odds. What is it that allows these students with every “at risk” (poverty, divorce, drug use, alcoholism, abuse, and etc.) factor to succeed?

There have been multiple studies that have sought to understand why some kids make it and others falter in the face of adversity. Angela Lee Duckworth points to resiliency as the single most important trait in predicting success in students.

“Grit predicts success over and beyond talent.” – Duckworth

It isn’t talent that causes success, although it does help. It is resiliency that is the greatest predictor of success for kids. How many of us know people that were the most talented people in the world, but falter in life? I could name at least ten people that I know of.

Duckworth studied the relationship between grit and high achievement at West Point Military Academy. She compared the Whole Candidate Score which included the SAT, class rank, leadership ability and physical aptitude to their short questionnaire on grit. They found that the Whole Candidate Score which was the Army’s predictor of success had no relation on whether a candidate would complete the program. You see it wasn’t about test scores, it was about how resilient the person was.

“Of all the variables measured, grit was the best predictor of which cadets would stick around through that first difficult summer.” – Duckworth

The same could be said about ACT scores and GPA’s. These are not always the greatest predictor of success for students either. I have had students that scored in the 30’s on the ACT and struggled greatly in college. Everything came easy and once they hit failure they buckled.

As parents and educators we need to instill the attitude of “I can get better if I try harder” in our kids. Encourage them to be resilient and help them to understand that failure is not the end of the world. Failure is an option, and helps us to become resilient.

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