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This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Grit" by Angela Duckworth. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How can a good culture lead to grit and success? How can you find a gritty culture or build one?

Grit and success are made easier when you’re surrounded by a culture of grit. You can either seek out a gritty culture at work, at school, or in your personal life. Or, you can create one using what you know about grit.

Read more about a culture of grit and success below.

Grit and Success in Gritty Culture

A culture exists when a group of people agree on how to do things and why. The sharper the difference between this group and the rest of the world, the stronger the bonds.

To be grittier, find a gritty culture and join it. You will conform to the group and adopt their gritty habits. When it’s socially expected to wake up at 4AM to practice, it becomes what you do.

The causation is bidirectional between the people and the culture. People need to be gritty to join a culture that selects for grit and success (like a top sports team). Then, because gritty people will reinforce each other, the culture gets grittier, which raises the bar for people who join. This is the corresponsive principle at work.

Eventually, the values of the culture we belong to become part of our identity. When values like grit and success become part of our identity, decisions depending on those values become habit and automatic. 

If it’s part of your identity to finish what you complete, you don’t constantly stop and ask, “what is the cost-benefit tradeoff of continuing? What are the risks?” You ask: “Who am I? What is this situation? What does someone like me do in a situation like this?” Often grit will take you past the point when it’s seemingly rational to give up – if grit is part of your identity, persevering and keeping passion is just something you do.

Thus, think of yourself as someone who can overcome adversity, as someone who can get the better of bad fortune by proving you can stand worse. You will tend to act in a way that is consistent with your self-belief.  

How to Create a Gritty Culture

Repeat the values of grit and success repeatedly in your communication. Make it a tagline you can refer to easily, and that people will repeat to each other and themselves.

  • Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, wrote: “Have a fierce resolve in everything you do.” “Demonstrate determination, resiliency, and tenacity.” “Do not let temporary setbacks become permanent excuses.” “Use mistakes and problems as opportunities to get better – not reasons to quit.” 
  • Pete Carroll says: “Always compete.” “You’re either competing or you’re not.” “Compete in everything you do.” “You’re a Seahawk 24-7.” “Finish strong.” “Positive self-talk.” “Team first.” “Be early.”

Give the Grit Scale questionnaire to people and let them see their results.

Give a test of grit and success (like the treadmill test) and make the results publicly known.

Test your teammates on memorizing your cultural values and articulating what it means.

Lead by example. Built an improvement plan for someone who is struggling, and execute it alongside them. They will soon bootstrap themselves to improve independently.

Recruit people who are demonstrably grittier than the average in your team.

Praise behavior that is gritty. 

Be a supportive and demanding mentor. Think about how you would treat your own children.

Grit and Success: Find a Gritty Culture

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Angela Duckworth's "Grit" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Grit summary:

  • How your grit can predict your success
  • The 4 components that make up grit
  • Why focusing on talent means you overlook true potential

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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