How to develop grit in your working life

Do you have what it takes to work towards a long-term career goal?

Do you have the patience?

Do you have the perseverance?

Do you have the passion?

If you are one of these lucky people, you have what’s known as grit and it’s a character trait well worth having.

Grit was defined by psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth in her 2016 book ‘Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.’

She studied cadets at West Point US Military Academy, the US’s leading military academy, which accepts 12% of its applicants per year, and found that those with a high grit score were able to maintain their determination and motivation over long periods despite experiences with failure and adversity.

And that overall, grit is a better predictor of success than IQ as it requires the ability to stay the course amid challenges and setbacks.

TED Talk: Angela Lee Duckworth | Grit: The power of passion and perseverance

Why do employers hire employees with grit?

They are easier to onboard

Employees with grit are more likely to take their careers seriously and are willing to jump in the deep end when they start a new role. They are engaged from the get-go and will ask the right questions to become more proficient at their job and get to know the role quicker.

They are enthusiastic about learning new things

As well as their day-to-day role, those with grit want to develop their skills and talent, whether that’s through specific learning or volunteering to take on other opportunities.

They want to succeed in the workplace

Employees with grit will work harder for longer and are more immune from setbacks. With long-term goals in mind, they aren’t discouraged by failure but will preserve and motivate others to do so as well. By nature, gritty people are optimists, and unfazed by distraction, and are therefore highly likely to be productive and successful in the workplace. 

How do YOU become gritty in the workplace?

All in all, there's every reason to be gritty in the workplace, and luckily for you, it's a trait that can be nurtured and developed and is not something we are naturally born with

For starters, Duckworth’s Grit Scale can help you identify how gritty you are at this moment. 

Take the Test: How Much Grit Do You Have?

Remember to focus on work, rather than other activities for the test and be true to yourself when answering the questions, as you can fake a higher score without too much effort, but won't be able to improve on doing so. 

The questionnaire is not perfect, but it's a great place to start to help you reflect on how you approach obstacles you've faced in your life so far and prompts you to think about ways in which you can improve.

How can you improve your Grit Score?

So how can you improve your grit score?

Here are a few pointers to help you get started:

1. Practice

When you’ve not performed as well as you hoped in a task, let’s say you couldn’t make the deadline you committed to, ask yourself what you could have done differently to improve the situation. 

Next time, try this idea out for size. If it works, change your method, and you’ll find that your motivation for completing the task has increased enormously. Over time, you can improve on your previous results through trial and error and you’ll find that your ability to pursue these tasks in a positive manner increases exponentially, and you’ll be able to face challenges head-on.

2. Find your purpose

Ask yourself: 

‘Why am I doing this?’ 

‘Why am I going to work every day?’ 

Chances are, you do not enjoy, say the minutiae of project management, however, understanding the bigger picture of what you want to achieve in your career will help you enjoy the day-to-day tasks even more.

Perhaps you work in project management, and the company you work for is trying to create alternatives to plastic we can use in our everyday lives. This is something that you can see the benefit of and believe in, and remembering the wider picture can help you muddle through your own career journey. 

3. Reframe your story

Now that you’ve had a few different experiences in your career, especially failures, it’s time to start reframing them as something that can be seen as positive. 

For example, that redundancy was not the time you lost your job, but the chance to truly look for a career in a sector you believe in or take the plunge into an entrepreneurial idea you always had.

Reframing your experiences will help you create a positive mindset and you can continue to do so whenever you face setbacks. 

For example, if you then don’t receive a job offer after an interview, you can understand it as a way of practising in an interview situation before the right opportunity comes your way. 

And the positive emotion that you have channelled will help you keep up the motivation when you face even more setbacks. Soon these setbacks will turn into opportunities, you’ll grab those opportunities and the positive emotion will just keep on coming!

How do you show employers how gritty you are?

With 98% of employers would choose a candidate with grit over another who is otherwise perfectly qualified, it's no wonder that you want to show off your grittiness in an interview. 

Here are a few starting points which can be drawn upon in behavioural interview questions:

Show humility

Let your hiring manager know about the failures and setbacks you’ve faced in previous roles and what you did to overcome them. Show them that you are not perfect and that you can learn from your mistakes. 

Show passion

This doesn't have to necessarily be within the industry or your job role, but passion is one of the key aspects of grit. Showing that you have a passion for something and the perseverance to pursue it over a long period of time is a great way to show a potential employer your gritty side.

Talk about unexpected obstacles

Talk about times when you face challenges and what you did to overcome them. Help your potential employer understand that you have a positive mindset and can bounce back from these challenges in a positive way. 

Demonstrate your work ethic

Show future employers that you've gone above and beyond on a task. Describe what the situation was and the outcome of your determination.


With grit being a highly sought after skill, especially in the post-COVID era, these steps can help you to improve your grittiness in no time and send your career to dazzling new heights. You'll soon see the benefits!


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