Great Quotes from Angela Duckworth

The focus on just thinking about standardized test scores as being synonymous with achievement for teenagers is ridiculous, right? There are so many things that kids care about, where they excel, where they try hard, where they learn important life lessons, that are not picked up by test scores.

Angela Duckworth

If you’re never able to tolerate a little bit of pain and discomfort, you’ll never get better.

Angela Duckworth

Grit, in a word, is stamina. But it’s not just stamina in your effort. It’s also stamina in your direction, stamina in your interests. If you are working on different things but all of them very hard, you’re not really going to get anywhere. You’ll never become an expert.

Angela Duckworth

There are no shortcuts to true excellence.

Angela Duckworth

Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Angela Duckworth

When people think of the word ‘drive,’ they often think you have it or you don’t, and that’s where we’re wrong. Drive is something that can be encouraged by a wonderful teacher, by a terrific classroom environment, by an awesome soccer team that you are on, and it can be squashed as well.

Angela Duckworth

At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.

Angela Duckworth

I’m not a policy oriented person. I’m constrained to what I study. But educational policy has not yet taken adequate note of the whole child. Kids are not just their IQ or standardized test scores. It matters whether or not they show up, how hard they work.

Angela Duckworth

The parenting style that is good for grit is also the parenting style good for most other things: Be really, really demanding, and be very, very supportive.

Angela Duckworth

What we reliably find is that people’s perseverance scores are actually higher than their passion scores, and I think it really does get to the fact that working hard is hard, but maybe finding your passion is even more difficult.

Angela Duckworth

Grittier students are more likely to earn their diplomas; grittier teachers are more effective in the classroom. Grittier soldiers are more likely to complete their training, and grittier salespeople are more likely to keep their jobs. The more challenging the domain, the more grit seems to matter.

Angela Duckworth

Being gritty doesn’t mean not showing pain or pretending everything is O.K. In fact, when you look at healthy and successful and giving people, they are extraordinarily meta-cognitive. They’re able to say things like, ‘Dude, I totally lost my temper this morning.’ That ability to reflect on yourself is signature to grit.

Angela Duckworth

Nobody gets to be good at something without effort, no matter what your aptitude is.

Angela Duckworth

As our knees and hips and eyesight deteriorate, we become more dependable, less impulsive, kinder, and less moody. Psychologists call this the maturity principle. My own life experience fits this principle to a T.

Angela Duckworth

I think the questions on the grit scale about not letting setbacks disappoint you, finishing what you begin, doing things with focus, I think that those are things I would aspire to or hope for for all our children.

Angela Duckworth

To me, the most shocking thing about grit is how little we know, how little science knows, about building it. Every day, parents and teachers ask me, ‘How do I build grit in kids? What do I do to teach kids a solid work ethic? How do I keep them motivated for the long run?’ The honest answer is, I don’t know.

Angela Duckworth

Most teachers, when surveyed, say that it is part of their job to help students develop things like grit. This is especially true at the elementary and middle school levels. They feel it’s part of their vocation to teach other things that are not formally academic content.

Angela Duckworth

Striving is exhausting. Sometimes I do say things like, ‘I wish I were not quite this driven to be excellent.’ It’s not a comfortable life. It’s not relaxed. I’m not relaxed as a person. I mean, I’m not unhappy. But… it’s the opposite of being comfortable.

Angela Duckworth

I do feel it’s hard to be modest and humble and egoless when people are telling you you are so great and wanting to give you prizes and energy. I’m trying hard not to be an awful, narcissistic human being.

Angela Duckworth

Gritty people train at the edge of their comfort zone. They zero in on one narrow aspect of their performance and set a stretch goal to improve it.

Angela Duckworth

We have found a direct correlation between grit and positive emotions, but the fact that I have no evidence that grit is bad for you doesn’t mean it’s not. It’s always a possibility that in the future researchers will discover a downside to grit.

Angela Duckworth

Many, many individuals will report starting to form their lifelong interests around adolescence. Why that is, researchers don’t fully know. But if you can take a trip down memory lane and see what interested you, that’s at least a clue as to where your interest may begin to develop.

Angela Duckworth

Childhood is generally far too early to know what we want to be when we grow up. Longitudinal studies following thousands of people across time have shown that most people only begin to gravitate toward certain vocational interests, and away from others, around middle school.

Angela Duckworth

I think that is just a limitation of any questionnaire – that we apply a frame of reference or standard. It’s a well-known finding in psychology that when people are total beginners at a skill, they tend to overrate their skill level. They don’t know what they don’t know. The more expert you are, the more critical you become.

Angela Duckworth

I worked hard when I was a consultant. I worked hard when I was in graduate school looking at neuroscience. I worked hard as a teacher. But those are completely different career paths. And the lack of direction is why I didn’t get far enough in any of those things.

Angela Duckworth

There’s something about taking the path of least resistance that makes a lot of sense. But at the same time, we have to figure out which things in life are worth struggling through.

Angela Duckworth

Grit and self-control are related, but they’re not the same thing.

Angela Duckworth

Boredom is a very self-conscious emotion by definition. Interest is not. So you can actually be completely absorbed in something and, at certain points in your development, not even realize that you’re into it.

Angela Duckworth

There’s this really awesome theory of human motivation – that human beings all want three things. One is to be competent, one is to belong, and one is be free, as in to have choice: to not be told what to do but to choose what to do.

Angela Duckworth

During all my undergrad years and in high school, I was involved in tutoring and public service. At Harvard, I spent over 35 hours a week doing service. I was a Big Sister, I worked for the homeless, the elderly; it was the epicenter of my focus.

Angela Duckworth

Negative feelings are typical of learning, and you shouldn’t feel like you’re stupid when you’re frustrated doing something. You might say to yourself, ‘I can’t do this,’ but you should say, ‘That’s great.’ That means you really have the potential to learn something there.

Angela Duckworth

One thing that’s true of gritty people is they love what they do, and they keep loving what they do. So they’re not just in love for a day or a week. People who are really gritty – they’re still interested.

Angela Duckworth

There haven’t been genetic studies on grit, but we often think that challenge is inherited but grit is learned. That’s not what science says. Science says grit comes from both nature and nurture.

Angela Duckworth

There is a fluency and an ease with which true mastery and expertise always expresses itself, whether it be in writing, whether it be in a mathematical proof, whether it be in a dance that you see on stage, really in every domain. But I think the question is, you know, where does that fluency and mastery come from?

Angela Duckworth

It is important to realize that the process of ‘fostering’ a passion takes trial and error. It takes experience; you cannot do it all in your head. And it takes a long time.

Angela Duckworth

Really, what matters in the long run is sticking with things and working daily to get better at them.

Angela Duckworth

The words that we use I think are symbolic of the values that we hold.

Angela Duckworth

Most people who are really, enduringly interested in something eventually find that it’s important, too – and important to other people. Very few people can keep going their whole life doing something and feel like it’s merely personally fascinating.

Angela Duckworth

One of the challenges of commencement speeches is that you have this older, wiser person who is accomplished talking to young, not-yet-so-wise, not-yet-accomplished adults or, in high school or middle school, even younger.

Angela Duckworth

Substituting nuance for novelty is what experts do, and that is why they are never bored.

Angela Duckworth

The most important thing parents can do, although it’s not the only thing they should do, is model the behavior they want from their kids.

Angela Duckworth

I think it’s very important to send the message that, while parents are needed to remind you to practice and occasionally force you to finish things… they also need to learn to respect you. You as an individual, ultimately, are the captain of where you’re going.

Angela Duckworth

I believe kids should choose what they want to do, because it’s their life, but they have to choose something, and they can’t quit in the middle unless there’s a really good reason. There are going to be peaks and valleys. You don’t want to let kids quit during a valley.

Angela Duckworth

You cannot will yourself to be interested in something you’re not interested in. But you can actively discover and deepen your interest.

Angela Duckworth

I know that instructional time is a zero-sum game, but if we want kids to do well academically, it’s hard to imagine that happening if they don’t have some control over their attention.

Angela Duckworth

When people tell me I can’t do something, I have a visceral reflex to say, ‘Yes, I can.’

Angela Duckworth

Everybody knows that effort matters. What was revelatory to me was how much it mattered.

Angela Duckworth

I was a good novice teacher, but I did the things that were obvious. I stayed for lunch for extra tutoring, gave kids my cell phone, and was available. In my first year of teaching, I ended up doubling the math time that a conventional school would have. But I don’t think any of these things were path-breaking or unusual.

Angela Duckworth

It’s a very good thing to teach kids to finish what they started in the sense of fulfilling their commitments. So when my daughter told me on the second track meet that she was done with it because she discovered she didn’t like competing, I made her finish the season.

Angela Duckworth

I think the very idea of character, of developing not just grit, but empathy and curiosity, emotional intelligence – you know, the things that I want my own daughters to develop – the idea that we’re going to get there through rewards and punishments seems completely at odds with the idea of character itself.

Angela Duckworth

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my genes because I can’t do anything about them.

Angela Duckworth

I’m so much more gratified by my life now that I have an expertise. I wake up every day thinking about a fairly small set of scientific questions all related to the psychology of achievement, and I’ll never get bored of those questions. That’s something I couldn’t say to you when I was 22 or 25 or probably even 31.

Angela Duckworth