The Virtue of Hard Things: Do You Have True Grit?

Posted on: June 24, 2016

Why do some people have extraordinary success and others do not? What makes the difference–aptitude and innate ability or dedication to a goal and strenuous effort? In her new book, GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania shows that it is not talent but “grit”–a combination of passion and perseverance in pursuit of a long-term goals–that matters most in achieving success.

As a seventh-grade math teacher in a New York City public school, she wondered why her most capable students did not always receive the best grades. She observed that often those that got the best grades chose to invest more time and effort in their work. Over the years she has studied entering West Point cadets, spelling-bee champions, Ivy League undergraduates who had high SAT scores, teachers working in some of the nation’s most challenging schools, and interviewed dozens of high-achievers from CEOs to professional cartoonists to coaches. She has repeatedly found that “grit” predicts success better than innate ability.

It is fascinating to read that while grit is defined by tireless effort, it is driven by passion demonstrated in “consistency over time.” Perseverance and endurance are what make the grittiest people; those who have long-term goals and the ability to work steadily and unfailingly to achieve them.

As we all think about the challenges we are facing to modernize IT@UT, Duckworth’s research and insights into grit are useful and strengthening. On many fronts, we are engaging with the campus community and working together to ensure the success of our modernization efforts. With the Workday and ServiceNow implementations, upcoming IT@UT web portal, and supporting IT at the new Dell Medical School there is no going back, no quitting. We are progressing forward to implement IT improvements on campus that will significantly contribute to our world-class institution. Grit will help us achieve our goals. When the going gets tough–and it will–the ability to endure is one of the best and most important ways to express passion for UT Austin, contribute to the greater good, and help the University fully realize its mission and purpose.

Find your passion, persevere, and know that at every level what you’re doing to improve IT@UT will help change the world.