Why Grit Matters in the Workplace

true grit amazon

Grit, brass, fortitude – all describe someone that can take the hits, get up and still soldier on to achieve their goals. History is full of examples of persistence, audacity and persistence. That’s not a coincidence by the way; grit is necessary to succeed when confronted with insurmountable odds.


Grit is often mistaken for stubbornness, which is fair considering persistence is, in essence, a type of stubbornness. But be careful, resilience is very different from digging in for the sake of digging in. Being headstrong is a sure-fire way to damage your career irrevocably. Developing a reputation for being inflexible, difficult and stubborn will close professional doors and stifle potential collaborations.


One of the most significant advantages of having grit is the persistence to learn to overcome obstacles which other people might find overly laborious or even perceive as impossible. Take, for example, the story of Carly Fiorina one of the first female Chief Executives of a large tech company (Hewlett-Packard) who went on to even as a 2016 Presidential candidate.

Upon graduating from Stanford and dropping out of a semester of Law school, she worked as a secretary slowly moving up in the company but finally left to work as a sales representative at AT&T. This started her meteoric rise to CEO of HP. Although most people would be disheartened at having a degree from Stanford and working as a secretary, Fiorina used it to as a stepping stone to immense success.


It has been proven that grit or persistence is a much more valuable asset for success than IQ. Yes, you can be a genius, but someone who has more grit than you will be a better manager. In a study conducted by Psychologist Angela Duckworth, she found that students with more “grit” were much more academically successful than students with high intelligence.

In this case, grit translates to self-discipline, students with high IQ generally lacked the self-discipline and work ethic to follow-through and complete the tasks necessary for success. Actually across the board and compared to other factors such as social intelligence, attractiveness and even charisma, the biggest indicator for success was grit.


As the popular idiom says: nothing ventured, nothing gained. Often intelligent people that lack grit get in their own heads or allow their fear of failure to stop them from taking opportunities and risks. People with grit, on the other hand, do not fear failure and will take more risks, which often pay off. I’m not saying that he isn’t intelligent, but let’s take for example Chris Pratt.

He was essentially a beach bum in Maui, living out of a van and working about 15-20 hours, because a friend offered to buy him a ticket there (risk no.1). One day while working as a server at a restaurant, future director and actress Rae Dawn Chong (yes, daughter of Chong from Cheech and Chong) saw Pratt and offered him a job on her short horror film after she asked if he acted and he lied that he did (risk 2). In just a couple of days, he packed up and moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting (risk 3).

Do you know any other reasons grit is important to success? Let us know in the comment section below.