Leaving a high-flying job in consulting, Angela Lee Duckworth took a job teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school. She quickly realized that IQ wasn’t the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. Here, she explains her theory of “grit” as a predictor of success.



  • What were your favorite subjects at school.





  • assignment – a task or piece of work allocated to someone as part of a job or course of study
  • stratospheric – extremely high
  • drop out – abandon a course of study
  • rookie – a new recruit, especially in the army or police
  • emerge – become visible
  • perseverance – persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success
  • grit – strength of character


Think about it

Answer the questions below. Pause at times indicated in brackets for answers.

  • What did Angela do at the age of 27? What struck her most about her students? (1:16)
  • What did Angela do after she quit her teaching position? What kind of research was she doing and what conclusion did she and her team come up with? (3:01)
  • What is grit? (3:27)
  • Is grit the same as talent? (4:52)
  • What is the growth mindset?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

After several more years of teaching, I came ________ the conclusion that what we need in education is a ________ better understanding of students and learning from a motivational perspective, from a psychological perspective. In education, ________ one thing we know how to measure best is IQ. But what if doing well in school and ________ life depends ________ much more than your ability to learn quickly and easily?

So I left the classroom, and I went to graduate school to become a psychologist. I started studying kids and adults in all kinds of super challenging settings, and in every study my question was, ________ is successful here and why? My research team and I went to West Point Military Academy. We tried to predict ________ cadets would stay in military training and which would drop ________. We went to the National Spelling Bee and tried to predict which children would advance farthest in competition. We studied rookie teachers working in really tough neighborhoods, asking which teachers are still going to _________ here in teaching by the end of the school year, and of those, who will be the most effective ________ improving learning outcomes for their students? We partnered with private companies, asking, ________ of these salespeople is going to keep their jobs? And who’s going to earn the most money? In all those very different contexts, one characteristic emerged ________ a significant predictor of success. And it wasn’t social intelligence. It wasn’t good looks, physical health, and it wasn’t IQ. It was grit.


Explore it more

TED Talk // Carol Dweck: The power of believing that you can improve