Building the Grit Muscle: How Perseverance Fuels Motivation


Do you ever find yourself struggling to stay motivated when facing challenges? It's natural to feel this way at times, but the good news is that you have the power to build your grit muscle and fuel your motivation.

As Angela Duckworth, a renowned psychologist and author of "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance," puts it, "Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in and day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality."

Understanding the concept of grit and learning how to cultivate it within yourself is crucial for achieving your long-term goals. In this article, we'll explore the roots of grit, the daily habits that help build it, and how it fuels your motivation. Additionally, we'll delve into real-life examples of individuals who have used grit to overcome challenges and grow stronger from failure.

So, if you're ready to embark on a journey of self-improvement and develop the resilience needed to face life's obstacles, join us as we uncover the power of perseverance and its role in shaping a motivated and determined mindset.

Understanding Grit: The Power to Keep Going

Grit is the secret sauce that keeps you moving forward, even when things get tough. It's the fuel that drives you to persevere in the face of obstacles. Angela Duckworth, a pioneering psychologist in the field of grit, defines it as "the passion and perseverance for long-term goals"1 . Think of it as the ability to stay focused and resilient in pursuit of your dreams, regardless of the challenges that come your way.

You may have encountered moments when you felt like giving up, but something inside of you kept pushing you to keep going. That's your grit at work. It's the inner strength that compels you to try again, even when the odds seem stacked against you. As Duckworth explains, "Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, and not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality"1 .

So, how can you develop this potent force within yourself?

The Roots of Grit: Where Perseverance Begins

Building the grit muscle starts with understanding where perseverance originates. In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth writes, "Grit begins with a growth mindset—the belief that your abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work". This growth mindset is the foundation upon which grit is built.

Reflect on the people who have influenced you and notice the impact of their attitudes and behaviors on your ability to persevere. As Duckworth suggests, "Your parents, mentors, and friends can shape your mindsets and, in turn, shape your behaviors".

Consider your own childhood and the messages you received about perseverance. If you were praised for effort and resilience, you were likely receiving the seeds of grit. On the other hand, if you were repeatedly told that you either had it or you didn't, you may have developed a fixed mindset that hindered your ability to persevere.

The roots of grit also extend into the values and culture of your upbringing. As professor of psychology at Stanford University, Carol Dweck puts it, "In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I'm going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here's a chance to grow"2 .

tree roots on rock formation
Photo by Zach Reiner on Unsplash

Building Grit Step by Step: Daily Habits

So, you want to build grit and develop the perseverance to keep going even when things get tough? It's not about making huge, drastic changes overnight. Instead, it's about incorporating small, daily habits that will gradually strengthen your grit muscle. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:

  1. Set Clear Goals: According to Angela Duckworth, author of "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance," having clear, long-term goals is essential for developing grit.

  2. Develop a Routine: Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth also suggests developing a daily routine that supports your long-term goals. Start with small changes, like waking up and going to bed at the same time each day. As you gradually build your routine, it will become easier to stick to your goals.

  3. Practice Mindfulness: A study published in the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology" found that individuals who practiced mindfulness meditation showed more perseverance in completing difficult tasks. This means taking a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness can help you develop the perseverance necessary for grit.

  4. Seek Feedback: According to best-selling author and leadership expert, Ken Blanchard, "Feedback is the breakfast of champions." Seeking feedback from others can help you identify areas for improvement and grow stronger in the face of challenges.

  5. Embrace Discomfort: According to research by Dr. Brene Brown, "The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time." Embracing discomfort and stepping out of your comfort zone on a daily basis can help you develop the resilience needed to persevere through difficult situations.

By incorporating these daily habits into your life, you can gradually build your grit muscle and develop the perseverance to keep going, even when faced with challenges.

Motivation and Grit: How They Work Together

When it comes to achieving your goals, motivation and grit go hand in hand. Motivation gets you started, but it’s grit that keeps you going when the going gets tough. As one author puts it, "Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint."

Motivation fuels your desire to achieve something, while grit sustains that desire over time. You might feel motivated to start a new project, but it’s your grit that will keep you committed to seeing it through. Without grit, your initial burst of motivation is likely to fade away when faced with obstacles or setbacks.

Grit gives you the resilience to keep going, to push through the challenges, and to embrace the process of working towards your goals. Without grit, motivation is just a spark that can easily be extinguished. With grit, motivation becomes the fire that fuels your perseverance.

It’s like having a powerful engine in a car. Motivation is the fuel that gets the engine going, but grit is the endurance that keeps the engine running on the long journey. Without both, your journey might come to a halt.

One author captures this connection beautifully: "Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle."

As you work on cultivating your grit, remember that motivation and grit work together in a symbiotic relationship. While motivation gives you the initial push, it’s your grit that provides the staying power to pursue your goals despite the challenges that come your way.

close-up photo of computer booard
Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

Challenges as Stepping Stones: Grit in Action

When facing challenges, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and tempted to give up. However, this is where grit comes into play, turning these obstacles into stepping stones for success. As Angela Duckworth, author of "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance" puts it, "Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint". This means that when you encounter difficulties, you must dig deep and keep moving forward, using the obstacles as opportunities to grow.

Recognize the Opportunity for Growth

"When you come across a challenge, instead of feeling defeated, remind yourself that this is an opportunity for you to learn and grow," says Dr. Carol Dweck, a renowned psychologist known for her work on mindset. Embracing challenges as opportunities for growth can shift your perspective and help you approach them with a positive mindset.

Set Small Achievable Goals

Break down the challenge into smaller, manageable tasks. This will allow you to make progress step by step, which in turn can boost your confidence and motivation. As athlete Mia Hamm once said, "Celebrate what you've accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed".

Seek Support and Guidance

Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Seeking support from friends, mentors, or colleagues can provide you with different perspectives and valuable advice. According to author and researcher Brené Brown, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change"4 . Being open about your struggles can lead to powerful breakthroughs.

Learn from Failure

Failure is an inevitable part of any journey towards success. Instead of viewing it as a roadblock, see it as a learning opportunity. As Thomas Edison famously said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work"5 . Reflect on your setbacks, learn from them, and adjust your approach accordingly.

Stay Resilient

As you navigate through challenges, remember that resilience is key. Psychologist Susan David emphasizes, "Resilience is about being able to get back up on your feet, to keep doing what you've been doing, no matter how many times you've been knocked down"6 . Cultivating resilience will enable you to persevere through tough times and emerge stronger.

By approaching challenges with determination and resilience, you can transform them into stepping stones towards your goals. Through perseverance and a growth mindset, you can harness the power of grit to propel yourself forward, no matter what obstacles come your way.

Growing Stronger from Failure: The Role of Grit

When you encounter failure, it's natural to feel discouraged and want to give up. But it's during these times that grit plays a crucial role in helping you bounce back stronger than before. As Angela Duckworth, the author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, wisely said, "Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality."

Embracing Failure as a Learning Opportunity

Embracing failure as a learning opportunity can be difficult, but it is a vital aspect of developing grit. In her book, Duckworth explains, "Failures can be very painful, but they don't define you. They're a source of information to learn from." By viewing setbacks as stepping-stones to success, you can cultivate resilience and the strength to persevere in the face of adversity.

Overcoming Setbacks with Grit

Author J.K. Rowling famously said, "It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default." Each failure is an opportunity to develop your grit muscle, pushing you to keep moving forward, no matter the obstacles. When you face a setback, remind yourself that it's just a detour on the path to your success - not the end of the road.

Cultivating Resilience

Researcher Brene Brown once stated, "The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time." Building resilience is a fundamental part of grit. By facing failure head-on and refusing to be defeated, you develop the inner strength to handle future challenges with confidence and determination.

As you navigate through life's challenges, remember that failure is not the end, but a crucial part of the journey towards success. Embrace the lessons it offers, and use them to fuel your determination and inner strength. With each setback, you have the opportunity to grow, persevere, and ultimately, achieve your goals.

top view photography of broken ceramic plate
Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Nurturing Grit in Others: Tips for Parents and Teachers

So, you want to help your children or students develop grit? You're in the right place. Nurturing grit in others is an essential task that can shape their future success and resilience. Here are some practical tips for parents and teachers to foster perseverance and determination in the young minds in their care:

1. Encourage a Growth Mindset

"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one." - John Wooden

When children and students adopt a growth mindset, they believe that their abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. As a parent or teacher, you can cultivate this mindset by praising effort, persistence, and strategies rather than focusing solely on intelligence or talent. Remind them that failure is a part of the learning process and an opportunity to grow.

2. Set High Expectations

"If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything." - John Wooden

By setting high but attainable expectations, you are challenging children and students to reach their full potential. This can motivate them to develop grit and perseverance as they strive to meet and exceed these expectations. Let them know that you believe in their capacity to overcome challenges and excel.

3. Provide Support and Guidance

"A master can tell you what he expects of you. A teacher, though, awakens your own expectations." - Patricia Neal

Offering support and guidance during difficult tasks can teach children and students the value of seeking help and using resources. Encouraging them to ask questions, seek advice, and collaborate with peers can foster a sense of community and teamwork while building their problem-solving skills.

4. Model Grit and Resilience

"Our children are watching to see if we believe in ourselves and our ability to handle life's challenges." - L.R. Knost

As a parent or teacher, you are a powerful role model for the young individuals in your care. Demonstrating grit, resilience, and perseverance in your own pursuits can inspire and motivate them to do the same. Share your own experiences of overcoming obstacles and how you learned from setbacks.

5. Provide Opportunities for Failure and Growth

"Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently." - Henry Ford

Creating an environment where children and students can take risks, make mistakes, and learn from failure is crucial for developing grit. Offer opportunities for them to tackle challenging tasks, take on leadership roles, and learn from their experiences. Emphasize the importance of perseverance and the potential for growth that comes from setbacks.

6. Foster a Sense of Purpose

"Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you." - Oprah Winfrey

Helping children and students discover their passions and interests can ignite a sense of purpose that fuels their determination and perseverance. Encourage them to pursue activities that bring them joy and fulfillment, and guide them in setting meaningful goals that align with their values and aspirations.

Incorporating these tips into your interactions with children and students can contribute to the cultivation of grit and resilience. Remember, nurturing grit is a process that requires patience, consistent effort, and a genuine belief in the potential of those you are guiding.


Building the grit muscle is not a one-time achievement, but a continuous journey of self-improvement. As you have learned, grit is the fuel that keeps you going, regardless of the obstacles you face. It is the driving force behind your perseverance and determination to reach your goals.

In the words of Angela Duckworth, "Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint." This means embracing the challenges, setbacks, and failures as opportunities for growth and learning. It's about staying committed to your long-term passions and goals, even when the going gets tough.

Remember, nurturing grit is a process that requires daily habits, consistent motivation, and the willingness to overcome challenges. It's about teaching yourself to develop resilience, perseverance, and a positive mindset. As you continue to strengthen your grit muscle, you will find yourself becoming more resilient, determined, and motivated to achieve your ambitions.

You are now equipped with the knowledge and tools to build your grit muscle and fuel your motivation. So, as you go forward, keep pushing yourself, embracing challenges, and learning from your failures. With grit as your ally, you will be unstoppable in achieving your dreams.

green and white i love you printed textile
Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

1Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (2016)
2Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (2016)
3Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2006)
4Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (2016)
5Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2006)
6Mia Hamm, Winners Never Quit (2004)
7Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (2012)
8Thomas Edison, His Life and Inventions (1910)
9Susan David, Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life (2016)
10Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (2016)
11J.K. Rowling, Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination (2015)
12Brene Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (2012)
13Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2006)
14John Wooden, Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court (1997)
15L.R. Knost, Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages (2013)
16Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (2016)