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Companies are increasingly looking for employees with grit, which studies show is a better predictor of success than both test scores and ability. But what exaclty is grit? And how do you know if you have it (and, if so, how much of it)?
The good news is there's now a clear and concise definition of grit as well as a quick "grit quiz" that will tell you how gritty you really are (if you take the quiz honestly, that is). Both the definition and quiz come courtesy of MacArthur "genius" Angela Duckworth, who's the author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.
Duckworth recently co-wrote a Harvard Business Review article that defines grit like this: "The two critical components of grit are passion and perseverance. Passion comes from intrinsic interest in your craft and from a sense of purpose—the conviction that your work is meaningful and helps others. Perseverance takes the form of resilience in the face of adversity as well as unwavering devotion to continuous improvement."
From this desription of grit, you can begin to assess your own grittiness. Think of how passion plays into your current position or craft (you might have a day job that pays the bills while your true career path is a craft or side gig). Are you passionate about what you're doing? Do you have a sense of purpose in your role/at your craft? Is it helping others? Is your intention to serve others or just yourself?
Then look at the second part of the definition. Perseverance and resilience. Do you let adversity, rejection, and failure stop you? Do you learn from mistakes? Do you continue to press on when you hit roadblocks? Do you have a strong desire to get better and improve? How committed are you to your role/craft?
Answering these questions honestly will begin to give you a sense of how much grit you have. Then, for an even deeper dive into your grit level, head over to Duckworth's Grit Scale. This is a 10-question multiple-choice quiz that will give you great insight into your grittiness. Of course, you have to answer honestly. And since no one will see your score but you, and it's in your best interest to improve and not lie to yourself, you should have every incentive to answer as truthfully as possible.
Once you have your grit score, and you've thought about the definition above, there's one more thing to consider to assess your grittiness. Here's Duckworth again in the HBR article on how she recommends employers test job candidates for grit:
"When checking references, listen for evidence that candidates have bounced back from failure in the past, demonstrated flexibility in dealing with unexpected obstacles, and sustained a habit of continuous self-improvement. Most of all, look for signs that people are driven by a purpose bigger than themselves, one that resonates with the mission of your organization."
And so, think about your answers if a hiring manager were to ask you to talk about times you bounced back from failure, how you deal with unexpected obstacles, and to tell about times you've pursued self-improvement. If you can answer these questions easily and eloquently, then you can be sure that you have a good level of grit, meaning employers will want to hire someone like you.
But if you have trouble answering these questions, it will likely benefit you to look into why. Maybe you're working in the wrong role or industry. Maybe you're pursuing a craft that doesn't fit with your personality, temperament, and passion. Maybe you haven't found a mission greater than yourself yet.
That said, keep in mind that grit isn't everything. In a Q&A, when Duckworth was asked if she'd rather her daughters possess grit or honesty, Duckworth chose honesty. And when asked if she'd rather her daughters possess kindness or grit, Duckworth chose kindness. But, she also said in the Q&A, "My ultimate hope is that they lead honest, kind, and gritty lives."
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