True Grit

Angela Duckworth, Ph.D., is a former management consultant, an ex-public school teacher, and an American psychologist.

At the 2013 TED conference, she gave a speech detailing what she had learned during her time inside the New York City public school system. One of the things she was most surprised to discover was that IQ was not necessarily the deciding factor between her best students and her worst.

Without giving away too much, and spoiling her video presentation in the process, she learned that grit was of more importance than inherent intelligence.


The talk is short (even by TED standards), but the message is powerful.

Not only can teachers and students relate, but it also serves as a reminder to entrepreneurs and business people alike that it’s not just a matter of intellect.

Intelligence is helpful (clearly), but it alone will not help someone suck up the bad, or tough times, and drag them through to the brighter ones… no, this requires true grit.

Just ask anyone who has ever had to hire someone. Sometimes the “smartest guys in the room” turn out to be some of worst staff.

Speaking from experience, in what personal successes I may have had in life, I doubt that IQ played the biggest role in it. Being a lean, mean, hard-ass on myself was without a doubt the driving factor. The old adage that “you’re your own worst enemy” cuts both ways—it can ruin you, but it can also help you (if you use that energy in a motivating, straightforward manner). Telling yourself every once in a while to stop being such a wimp and to suck it up definitely can help you get through certain situations and ordeals.

A favorite quote of mine is from Thomas Jefferson. “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” This quote sat above my computer for more than a few years and helped me through some truly tough times. Reminded me on a daily basis not to give up, or to give in.

Anyway, her presentation is a great watch and I’d suggest taking the (just) six minutes to watch it…