This reading group guide for Grit includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. Introduction
Angela Duckworth’s Grit
, a longtime New York Times
bestseller, is a master class in the components of grit: the combination of passion and perseverance that can take a life from good
. From studies of spelling bee champions to Olympic athletes to her own life as a researcher and mother, Duckworth takes the reader through a fascinating landscape of experiments and experiences, unlocking the psychological secrets of success. At once a primer in what makes a person gritty and a toolkit for cultivating that complex of skills, Grit
is essential reading for any student, professional, or parent—or anyone who strives for a more demanding, fulfilling, and rewarding life.Topics and Questions for Discussion
1. In the preface to Grit
, Duckworth describes her father repeatedly calling her “no genius” as a child—ironic because she was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Grant in mid-career. How were your intellectual merits evaluated when you were a child? What impact do you think that had on you?
2. Duckworth’s formula for achievement is that talent combined with effort equals skill and skill combined with effort equals achievement, meaning that effort counts twice (page 42). Does this resonate with you? Can you think of any examples of this formula in your own life?
3. Describe the difference between passion
4. The variance of the Grit Scale scores by age can be explained either by cultural changes or the “maturity principle”—so, either older adults are grittier because they were raised in a different, more grit-focused culture, or people become grittier as they age (page 85). How does the research support each of these theories? How does your own experience support them?
5. Duckworth identifies four characteristics that particularly gritty people tend to have: interest
in what they do, the capacity to practice
, a sense of purpose
in their work, and hope
for the future (page 91). Can you think of any examples in this book, from Olympic athletes to schoolchildren, who exhibit or don’t exhibit these qualities? From your own life?
6. Do you think passion is necessary to have a happy or successful career? What do you make of the formula that passion is built through discovery, development, and then deepening?
7. What distinguishes deliberate practice from other kinds of practice? Do you believe deliberate practice and flow are incompatible?
8. Consider the parable of the bricklayers (page 149). Is it possible for everyone to treat their job like a “calling”? What social forces prevent or encourage that possibility?
9. What distinguishes a growth from a fixed mindset? Do you believe intelligence is something that can change over a lifetime?
10. Are you a psychologically wise parent? Were you parented in a psychologically wise way? Take the quiz (page 214) and discuss.
11. There’s a positive correlation between Grit Grid scores and family income. Why do you think this is?
12. How might you apply the Hard Thing Rule in your life? If you have children, how does it compare with your parenting style?Enhance Your Book Club
1. Measure your own grit by taking the Grit Scale quiz (55). Discuss whether your score matched or failed to match your expectations.
2. Watch Angela Duckworth’s TED talk at www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_grit_the_power_of_passion_and_perseverence
3. Invite a particularly gritty friend to come speak at your book club and discuss what you can learn from their experiences.