Sticktoitiveness: The 8 Traits of Grit

Based on Duckworth’s trailblazing research, we can improve our future with grit. There is no better time to start than now!

“Learning to stick to something is a life skill that we all have to develop.”

— Angela Duckworth

For those who went to Catholic school, you might remember the nuns telling you and your peers to develop “sticktoitiveness.” Nuns urged students to make sure “sticktoitiveness” went into each homework assignment — and preached the word as if it was written in the Bible. The term “sticktoitiveness” was a daily call to action for them to educate and inspire excellence and perseverance. They wanted everyone to stay the course, to not give up, and to finish everything once started. The nuns were instilling a mindset to never allow the workload or other obstacles to interfere with accomplishing a task. The teachings of “sticktoitiveness” empowered students to develop a relentless spirit while always staying gritty. 

Pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. She specializes in studying grit and self-control. Her first book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverancewas published in 2016 and was featured on The New York Times bestseller list for several weeks. Duckworth has found “Grit” to be a common factor in the high-achievers she has studied. Her work suggests that “Grit” is unrelated to intelligence, but is highly related to conscientiousness. Duckworth, like the nuns, believes “Grit” is essential for everyone; however, it works best when teaching adolescents. Duckworth’s studies show: When young children develop conscientious behavioral traits as core habits, they can become high achievers. So, the Catholic nuns, according to Duckworth, were not wrong after all.

So what are the traits Angela Duckworth believes all “Gritty” people possess? 

  1. Gritty people focus on high-level pursuits but are flexible on low-level goals.

  2. Gritty people know the “Why” behind everything they do.

  3. Gritty people live life as a marathon, not a sprint.

  4. Gritty people are stubborn, not stupid.

  5. Gritty people work hard but work only with great focus and purpose.

  6. Gritty people view setbacks as comeback opportunities.

  7. Gritty people avoid distractions.

  8. Gritty people never feel anxious or ashamed in the face of adversity. They look for ways to improve and get better.

Duckworth believes that effort times talent equals skill — and skill times effort equals achievement. Cultivating a mindset of grit while practicing these eight traits can make all the difference in our personal and professional lives. Angela Duckworth also believes hope plays an important role. She writes, “Grit depends on a different kind of hope. It rests on the expectation that our own efforts can improve our future.”

Based on Duckworth’s trailblazing research, we can improve our future with grit. There is no better time to start than now!


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