How to nurture grit?

Albeit having relatively less experience than us, the young can always inspire us. Before Little Princess turned 9 months old, she could already cruised (walking while holding on to the edge of her play pen) – a milestone expected only from those age 9-10 months old. At the night of her 9-month birthday, she smiled to her big brother telling a favorite story, a practice with grit, motivated by a desire to participate in a competition, but the practices alone have brought us to exciting venues globally.

No matter what our age and profession, it is essential to nurture grit. Grit is about doing what we love, loving what we do. It is not just about falling in love, but staying in love.

According to Angela Duckworth, grit has two components: passion and perseverance.


Visualize our goals in a hierarchy.

The hierarchy includes low-level, mid-level, top-level goals. Deconstruct our top-level goals into baby steps. Think of the engineering approach of divide and conquer.

Grit is about sticking to the same top-level goal for a very long time. The low-level (even the mid-level) goals can be changed (or even abandoned) if we find better approaches to achieve the top-level goals.

Enthusiasm is common; endurance is rare.


Create and memorize our philosophy, mantra.

Some inspiring examples:

  • “Never quit your hard thing on a hard day.” ~ Angela Duckworth
  • Never try, never know.” ~ Kevin Lin (林義傑)
  • “I will never give up” ~ Little Prince, via Gaudi, spring 2017


Tap on (right) people.

Enlist our mentors, loved ones, colleagues and peers to help us stay optimistic and motivated.

Based on my experience in the early summer 2017, I concur with Angela Duckworth, it is harder to maintain grit in isolation. Now, I understand why I loved studying in the library during my undergraduate days. Seeing others studying motivated me without taking anything away from the seen.


Create, write, tell a positive story about our challenges and/or failures.

Ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Am I framing failure as temporary or permanent?
  • Am I framing failure in specific or pervasive terms?

In essence, to nurture grit, we need to view our problems, challenges, and failures as specific, transient, and external. This perspective is indeed a classic lesson from learned optimism.


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