discussion 1 grit

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As you begin striving toward your professional goals and future careers, you may notice the term “grit” popping up in more and more motivational speeches, college applications, and job descriptions. Merriam-Webster defines “grit” as “a small hard sharp particle (as of sand)” or “firmness of mind or spirit : unyielding courage.” It is this second definition which has given “grit” new life, becoming a watchword for businesses and colleges across the nation, emblazoned across highway billboards and university marquees. In Jerry Useem’s “Is Grit Overrated?,” the author explores this latest branding of self-determination by speaking with Angela Duckworth, University of Pennsylvania psychology professor and author of Grit. Read Useem’s article, which both explores and critiques Duckworth’s concept of “grit,” and respond to the questions below.

  • One of Duckworth’s most revelatory discoveries is how truly successful people deal with feelings like “frustration, disappointment, [and] boredom.” What does Duckworth argue that people with “grit” do with these emotions that separates them from their less-successful counterparts?
  • While Duckworth continues to emphasize the importance of “grit” for achieving one’s goals, how does the article’s author prove to us that many businesses and clients actually do not prefer “grit”? Provide particular examples from the article to reinforce your points.
  • What does Jerry Useem argue are the drawbacks of making our challenges more visible? What does the author of the article state, though, is beneficial to being more open about our difficulties? Do you, personally, feel that being transparent about the struggles of success is good or bad? Why?
  • Useem also critiques Duckworth’s focus on “directional consistency.” What specifically does “directional consistency” mean, and why does the author believe that this might hinder someone’s success? Can you think of another reason why “directional consistency” might be more damaging to success than helpful? Explain yourself fully, using specific examples and details.

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