Most of us have been impacted by seeing people with great talent not get things done after we hire them. When we try to evaluate what's missing in those talented people, we tend to determine they don't have enough of the following things:
What did I miss? I'm sure there are some other words that fall in this same category. Most of the time when people with great talent don't get things done, we point to these types of descriptors that identify some type of motivation.
The problem with the drive/ambition/initiative index of words is that they are notoriously difficult to measure via behavioral assessment - it's almost impossible to truly measure drive. That's why I'm excited to share a test to that attempts to measure something called GRIT. Most of us know that word and think we know what it means. Here's how a TED-talk type named Angela Duckworth describes her version of Grit:
"Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals.
One way to think about grit is to consider what grit isn’t.
Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something.
Instead, grit is about having what some researchers call an”ultimate concern”–a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.
Talent and luck matter to success. But talent and luck are no guarantee of grit. And in the very long run, I think grit may matter as least as much, if not more.
I study grit because it predicts achieving goals, but I want to point out that grit is more relevant to some goals than others. In particular, grit predicts achievement in really challenging and personally meaningful contexts. Graduating from high school or college rather than dropping out is one example. Returning to the National Spelling Bee with hopes of doing better than you did last year is another. But there are other goals for which enduring passion and perseverance are less relevant. Getting started on your taxes before April 15 takes self-control more than grit, for instance. Ditto for studying for a history test on Friday when you’d rather be on Instagram.
Finally, here is an article about how standardized test scores are not the only way to assess what a student knows and can do. For the record, I believe grit will for many adolescents be more evident in activities pursued outside of the classroom–in the school play, on the football field, in the school orchestra, in community service, and so on. This is what educational psychologist Warren Willingham found in 1985, and it is also what I find in my more recent research."
You can agree or disagree with that take, but she's done the work. More importantly, she's developed a test to measure Grit, and you can take it by clicking here.
Finally, Duckworth's TED talk on grit appears here (email subscribers click through for video). She notes that the Grit test is easy to fake, so be honest when you take it. Let me know if you're John Wayne or Rudy-like when it comes to GRIT...