Angela Duckworth Career Thought Leader Headshot


Angela Duckworth is a renowned psychologist and author known for her research on grit and its impact on success. She defines grit as a combination of passion and perseverance for long-term goals, and her work has shown that grit is a better predictor of success than factors like IQ or talent. Duckworth earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in neurobiology from Harvard College and later pursued a Master’s degree in neuroscience from Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar. She completed her Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she currently serves as the Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professor.

Before pursuing her Ph.D., Duckworth worked in several fields. She was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and later taught math and science in public schools, which provided her with valuable insights into the challenges faced by students and educators in the classroom. This experience influenced her interest in education and motivation, and prompted her to obtain her doctorate. In 2013, Duckworth was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, often referred to as the genius grant.

Specialty Areas


Highlighted Books

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

In this book, Duckworth defines the concept of grit, explains its significance in achieving success, and reveals how individuals can develop grit in their lives. The book combines her research findings with real-life examples and practical advice. Read our summary here.
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Highlighted Articles

Duckworth's interdisciplinary approach combines elements of psychology, education, and character development to shed light on the factors that contribute to success and well-being. If you want to learn more about how grit can help in your career or education, you can access a wide array of articles on her website. Below are some selected sample articles.

When to Quit, From an Expert on Grit

The Secret Ingredient of Successful People and Organizations: Grit

Grit Trumps Talent and IQ

Op-Ed: Don’t ban chatbots in classrooms — use them to change how we teach

Don’t Have a Passion? Now’s the Time to Foster One



The following quotes capture the essence of Duckworth's research and philosophy, emphasizing the importance of perseverance, passion, and effort in achieving long-term goals and success.

"Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you're willing to stay loyal to it. It's doing what you love, but not just falling in love―staying in love."

"Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another."

"Without effort, your talent is nothing more than your unmet potential."

TED(x) Talks

Grit: The power of passion and perseverance
Length: ((6:00))
In this TED Talk, Duckworth covers the principles of grit and how it can impact success to a greater degree than other factors such as IQ or talent. This TED Talk has been viewed over 30 million times, helping to popularize the concept of grit.


No Stupid Questions
Along with tech and sports executive, Mike Maughan, Duckworth hosts a podcast based on the premise that there are no foolish inquiries. In each episode, they ask people as many "stupid" questions as possible.



Grit Scale
Duckworth developed the Grit Scale, a psychological assessment tool that measures a person's level of grit. Because she defines grit as a combination of passion and perseverance for long-term goals, she designed the scale to assess how consistently a person demonstrates these traits in various aspects of life.


Character Lab
Angela Duckworth co-founded Character Lab, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the science and practice of character development. The organization conducts research and provides resources to help educators, parents, and policymakers nurture character strengths in young people.


Grit as a Crucial Predictor of Success

Duckworth's philosophy centers on the idea that grit, which she defines as passion and perseverance for long-term goals, is a crucial predictor of success. She argues that individuals who possess high levels of grit are more likely to achieve their goals and excel in their pursuits, regardless of their initial talent or intelligence.

Practicing Perseverance

Grit involves the ability to persevere in the face of adversity and setbacks. Duckworth encourages individuals to view challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. Rather than giving up when things get tough, she believes the key is in practicing resilience and working hard. Establishing daily rituals and habits is also important to support long-term goals. She believes that consistency in effort, even on a small scale, can contribute significantly to building grit over time.

Finding Your Passion

Duckworth emphasizes the importance of discovering what we are truly passionate about. This involves exploring different interests and reflecting on what excites and motivates us. Grit is more likely to develop when we are pursuing goals that align with our passions and values. Once we have identified our passions, she advocates that we set clear and challenging long-term goals related to it. These goals should be meaningful and have a purpose that resonates with us. Grit is often about persevering through obstacles to achieve these goals.

Grit and Education

Duckworth firmly believes that effective education should center on cultivating character strengths, including grit, which is just as important as developing academic skills. She believes that educators should focus not only on teaching content but also on fostering qualities like resilience, self-control, and a growth mindset in students. Duckworth's research suggests that character development can significantly impact students' long-term success, and she advocates for educational practices that prioritize character growth alongside academic achievement.

The "Hard Thing Rule"

Duckworth deeply believes in the Hard Thing Rule, a rule that she enforces in her family. This practice means that each family member must choose a hard thing (a challenging pursuit) and commit to it. This practice is intended to push us outside our comfort zones.

  1. Everyone (including parents) must do a hard thing that requires deliberate practice.
  2. You can quit, but only until the season, semester, tuition payment, etc. is up. That is, only when a natural stopping point has arrived. You cannot quit on the day a teacher yells at you, when you lose a race, or before the recital.
  3. You get to pick your hard thing. The idea is to foster interest.
  4. When your kids are in high school, the commitment to the hard thing must be for at least two years.


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