Spotlight Session with Angela Duckworth

November 12, 2016 by Madhura Birdi

Day 3 of INBOUND16 featured several well-known and talented speakers, but the highlight for a lot of people was author and psychologist Angela Duckworth’s Spotlight session.

Duckworth is best known for her research on the subject of grit.

Needless to say, excitement levels were through the roof.

My excitement level right now!!!!! First @angeladuckw, then @AnnaKendrick47, and then @serenawilliams! Y’all, i can’t breathe! #INBOUND16 pic.twitter.com/8RIY4SOtjz

— Nana Kwapong (@kwapna01) November 10, 2016


Duckworth’s research has shown that grit is one of the most significant factors that determine success. 


Grit is about passion (not the intensity but the consistency of your interest) + perseverance (the tenacity with which you pursue your goals).


And grit is closely tied to achievement.


But grit isn’t something you’re born with, available in finite quantities. It’s not fixed but malleable, and can be developed.


Talent will only get you so far. Grit is what keeps you going when you want to give up.


Grit might help you succeed but it doesn’t make you right.


Duckworth then theorizes that you can reverse engineer success to find a process to build grit.


Here is her four step process for developing grit:

1. Develop your interests

Specifically, developing your interests before training your weaknesses helps cultivate passion. Until you get to a point where the more you do something, the less bored you feel.

2. Know the science of deliberate practice.

  • Practice deliberately. Stretch a goal.
  • Get feedback (in a way that allows you to process it constructively).
  • Reflect on your progress. Know that frustration is a normal part of learning.

3. Cultivate purpose.

Link your goal to a higher purpose.

4. Have hope.


Duckworth makes the distinction between a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset.


A lot of people were absolutely thrilled with the oppoortunity to see Duckworth speak and meet her afterwards.


While others went away inspired and excited to try the new stuff they had learned.


Because with the right support, we can all get grittier in our own lives.


You can watch Duckworth’s Ted talk on grit here:

And if you are curious your own grit score, you can take the test here.

And finally, do check out our other session recaps for INBOUND16 here.

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