Action 28

I believe in perseverance; the passionate pursuit of long-term goals and “true grit.” As noted by Angela Duckworth and her colleagues (2007), grit is a passion to undertake and complete a mission with an unswerving dedication and determination to achieve that mission whatever the obstacles. Grit is a sense of steadfastness, sustainability and pride. In order to determine your level of grit, how many of the following items characterize you? Can you give examples of each?

  • “I concentrate my efforts on doing something about the situation.”
  • “I do what has to be done, one step at a time.”
  • “I try to come up with a strategy or game plan about what to do.”
  • “I try to get advice from someone about what to do.”
  • “I finish whatever I begin.”
  • “I have achieved a goal that took years of work.”
  • “I have overcome setbacks to conquer an important challenge.”
  • “Setbacks don’t discourage me.”
  • “When I put my mind to something I can work strenuously to achieve it.”
  • “I can maintain effort and interest over a long period of time (years), despite failure, adversities and plateaus in progress.”
  • “I can set long-term objectives and not swerve from them even in the absence of positive feedback.”
  • “I am eager to explore new things.”
  • “I believe that effort will improve my future.”
  • “I have zeal and the capacity for hard work.”
  • “I have a sustained commitment to my ambition.”
  • “I have confidence in my ability to make this transition to civilian life.”
  • “I show tenacity across life experiences.”
  • “I can choose the ‘hard right’, over the ‘easy wrong’.”

Useful Information

Grit has proven to be an important predictor of who completes Special Forces Training and other Missions. Grit contributes to resilience.

Quotable Quotes

“I believe that facing a challenge is when learning truly occurs.”

“I have learned how to swim against the tide.”

“I believe that pain and suffering are triggers for personal growth.”

“When I was down range, life was good for me, as well as hard. But it was full with little time to feel sorry for myself. I liked the routines and security. Now, I am in the business of creating my own routines, schedule and security.”

“Life needs to have a forward lean toward engagement, purpose and perseverance.”

“I can show “grit” which is the passion to pursue long-term goals and the ability to stick to it in order to fulfill my personal mission. I can map out my needs and resources. I can unleash my abilities and make greater use of my resources. I can stay the course and be determined.”

Consider the following accounts for an example of true grit:

“The RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) ambush in Fallujah, Iraq destroyed his

upper palate, and his left eye. It pulverized his left arm and right leg. It took sixty operations and six years to recover. One thing kept him going. He wanted to return to his men. He is now in command of 150 infantrymen, armor soldiers during their one year tour in Afghanistan. His men accept him, even though he can’t see out of his left eye, and he eats with prosthesis. He is the most seriously injured active-duty soldier. His name is Army Captain D.J. Skelton.” (Esquire Magazine, Dec. 2011)

“The RPG blast of her Humvee in Iraq collapsed her right lung and led to the amputation of her right arm. She reports that deep-down, ‘I have not changed. I don’t walk around all day looking at a mirror. I’m myself.’ But there are moments that catch her by surprise. ‘Oh my gosh, I only have one arm. I get anxious. It is never going to be easy.’ In spite of her injuries and losses, she went on to demonstrate courage, a warrior spirit, thriving in the recovery from war. She evidenced what Plato called ‘thumos’—a kind of ‘fire in the belly’ that is essential to the reintegration process. ‘There is also anxiety, frustration, fatigue, phantom pain, restricted mobility, self-pity, embarrassment, shame and a wish to retreat. There is mourning for the past and what she once could do. And there is also happiness.’ Through grit and a can-do attitude she is now the founder and CEO of a 100 person defense contracting firm which she started after leaving Walter Reed Hospital. She drives, uses a BlackBerry, plays tennis left-handed, and does yoga. Her name is Dawn Halfaker. You can read her account and others like her in Nancy Sherman’s The untold war. You can also see an interview with Dawn in a wonderful HBO movie, Alive Day Memories.” (Sherman, 2010)

Quanitta Underwood was ten years old and her sister was twelve years old when they were regularly sexually abused by their father. The psychiatric wounds and suicidal attempts are told in a New York Times story (February 12, 2012) and on Quanitta’s website It is a story of resilience, as Quanitta (known as Queen), is the five-time U.S. female boxing champion and is rated fourth in the world, and is also competing in the Olympics.

“Quanitta, a girl who felt like a nobody, but always imagined there was a somebody within. That’s why she called her website ‘Living Out The Dream’…I am a survivor of child abuse, and I became strong and independent… That dream carried me through a lot of days.” (Barry Bearak, 2012)

Action 29