The #1 Quality for Success in Life: Lessons from Angela Duckworth’s Grit

“Grit is living life like a marathon, not a sprint.”

Angela Duckworth

Looking to reach success in business and life? What’s the #1 quality that makes people successful? That’s what we answer in today’s episode as we cover:

  • What it takes to reach your long-term goals
  • How you can develop that #1 quality to reach success
  • How you help grow that quality in those you care about

Resources Mentioned In The Episode:

Grit by Angela Duckworth

Great by Choice by Jim Collins

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

The Power of Consistency by Weldon Long

Inrive Performance Nutrition


Episode timestamps:

[2:10] The #1 quality that makes people successful in life
[3:39] The value of a growth mindset
[4:26] Key takeaway from Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk
[5:46] The meaning of grit & why it’s important
[8:09] “Grit is living life as a marathon, not a sprint.”
[8:34] The 20 mile march concept from expeditions to the south pole
[09:42] Which is more important? Effort or talent
[11:16] How can you improve your grit?
[13:47] Tools to use to help attain long term goals
[16:26] Four ways to direct focus grow grit
[17:30] Defining your ultimate concern, or top-level goal
[20:08] Achievements require sacrifice
[21:38] Instilling grit in others (children, teammates, etc.)
[25:07] Action steps to take to improve grit


* This transcript was mostly generated by AI, so please excuse any mistakes, and enjoy!

[00:00:03] Patrick: Hello, and welcome to Live Fit Ignite Change where together as a community, we inspire each other to live a fit life, ignite the change we wish to see and thrive in all areas of life.

[00:00:19] In today’s episode, we have a snippet from a live training I led at DLP Capitol where we were discussing the number one quality that makes people successful in business and life.

[00:00:31] It’s right in line with what this podcast is all about, doing what it takes to reach your long-term goals and igniting the change that you wish to see to live a life of success, significance. And happiness. In this episode, we’ll answer what that one quality is and how you can develop. In yourself, plus wouldn’t it be nice to be able to grow this quality and those you care about and work with your teammates, your coworkers, and even your children.

[00:01:01] So we’ll cover exactly how to do that as well. Changing our world does not happen at once. It does not happen alone. It takes a committed group to be the change we wish to see. So together we rise above negative influences to lead by example, making a positive impact at home and around the world, you can learn more.

[00:01:25] Join us and get show notes at or for short, Welcome to today’s core value training. Obviously super glad you are here to be able to go through this. And if you are up for it, I would love for this to be an interactive conversation where everybody is participating.

[00:01:46] And so as most of you know, earlier this month, our leadership team went on a 30 mile hike in North Carolina to raise money for the Make-A-Wish foundation. So a pretty amazing day where we ended up raising over a hundred thousand dollars to go toward granting the wishes for these critically ill children.

[00:02:06] So a pretty amazing time. And the day before that hike, we got together for a leadership retreat. And one of the questions that was posed to the group was what do you think is the number one quality that makes people successful at DLP and in life. So I’m gonna give you a second to think about that. And hopefully then people can start chiming in on the answers because the next day on the Don and I actually had quite a lot of time to talk through this. And we kept coming back to three things that the group came up with. And, um, we ended up doing the last, what, 15 or so miles of the hike together. So I had a lot of time to talk through it. And it was really interesting as you’re hiking along, talking about these qualities. So I’d love to open it up to the group right now.

[00:02:53] What do you think for those top qualities that made people successful in DLP and in life? 

[00:02:59] I there’s some people saying, yeah, they already know it. They already in the room, if you aren’t just shout out something that you think or put it in the chat box.

[00:003:07 ] Audience: Definitely that passion and grit.

[00:03:09 ] Patrick: Passion and grit, grit in the chat box, accountability and grit.

[00:03:13] Audience: Determination.

[00:03:15] Patrick: 20 mile March. Positive mindset. These are that are all coming in. So definitely some very good ones there. And so a lot of you said what they were and to go back to the three that kept coming up one. Yes. Grit. You all said it very succinctly. That was probably the most common here. It was also the most common in the room amongst everybody else.

[00:03:39] The second was growth mindset. Having that growth mindset to be able, not your fixed mindset, to do you be able to want to grow, to think you can grow and to have the will to do it. And then the third, and this was actually more of a conversation between Don and I, that came up after our group meeting, it was, it was the way we were trying to phrase it, it was kind of moving with urgency. And when I say moving with urgency, it doesn’t mean just doing the urgent because we always talk about you don’t wanna do the urgent. You wanna focus on the important, but it was the idea of moving with urgency to do the important things. And so when you’re thinking about those three, it was grit, growth mindset, and moving with urgency to the important were really the things that we seemed to come.

[00:04:22] So a lot of that is what we’re going to talk about today. And as we do, let me take you back to another story. If any of you had may maybe seen Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk, Angela gave her background where she was a teacher in New York city, teaching seventh graders math, and she noticed an interesting thing.

[00:04:46] When she was teaching people, she found that a lot of the times it was her students with the highest IQs were not the best students, but then her best students, many of them were not the ones with the highest IQ. So to her, she kept asking the question. What could it be? And so she left the classroom where she was teaching to go back to the classroom where she was learning.

[00:05:14] And she went back to grad school to become the psychologist. And there, she asked question after question and every time she did, the same question that she asked was who is the most successful here and why she did a tremendous amount of studies on both students. Children and adults, and this is what she came up with.

[00:05:28] So maybe a rhetorical question at this point, what was the number one characteristic above all others that kept coming up. You shout this one out.

[00:05:46] Audience: Grit.

[00:05:47] Patrick: Grit. That is right. So grit, such an interesting word, right? Like if this is the number one Dr. Duckworth came up with, for the reason why most people are successful.

[00:05:58] What is it? It’s 

[00:05:59] such a weird word. Anybody have any ideas? What does grit mean to you? And I’m putting you on the spot there, but so some people coming off mute feel free, shout it out, whatever it means. There are no wrong answers here.

[00:06:10] Audience: I would say, overcoming, um, things in your life like pushing through and overcoming obstacles and not giving up.

[00:06:22] Patrick: Love that. Pushing through not giving up. So well said.

[00:06:26] Audience: Yeah, Patrick, I would say the ability to push through obstacles and push through good times 20 mile.

[00:06:34] Patrick: Awesome. Well said. Then cuts resiliency, courage to overcome great stuff coming through in the chat box as well.

[00:06:44] Audience: I’d say willingness to do whatever it takes to get to your ultimate goal.

[00:05:53] Patrick: That is a great way to put it. And tieing in your ultimate goal there too also see, encourage and resolve in the chat box. Yes, I can attitude. Um, can’t stop won’t stop until I reached the top. Kirsten. I would love you. That sounds like a song if you could have sung that, but, uh, but really well said in the chat box too.

[00:07:11] Kristen: I did this weekend while I was hiking in the desert.

[00:07:16] Patrick: Awesome. Well, you see on the screen now, what this, all of Angela’s work and research led to was this book: grit, the power and passion, and per the power of passion and perseverance. And that’s how we define it here at DLP. Passion and perseverance for long term goals. As you can see how we define it, we have the endurance, an unshakeable commitment necessary to achieve our visionary long term goals.

[00:07:46] And as Dr. Duckworth defined it, she went into a bit more detail here. Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals who is having stamina, who is sticking with your future day in day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.

[00:08:09] Grit is living life like a marathon, not a sprint. So when I read that definition, especially the part about day after day, week after week, year after year, what other core value does that sound like?

[00:08:25] Marilyn: 20 Mile March.

[00:08:27] Patrick: Thank you, Marilyn. Well said. Absolutely 20 mile March. And so many of our core values do tie together.

[00:08:33] And this one is so true for those that aren’t as familiar with the 20 mile March story obviously came popularized by Jim Collins book. Great by choice. It had two teams marching to the south pole and they were kind of in a race to get there. The team that marched 20 miles a day, day after day, week after week.

[00:08:50] No matter what the prevailing conditions were they got to the south pole first and they all made it back safely. And then the other team who would go 40 miles on the good 

[00:08:59] days and stay on their tents on the bad days, did not make it back unfortunately, and were much later those that did arrive, arrived later.

[00:09:07] So it’s that whole idea. They tied together a 20 mile March grit making them work together. That is what this is all about to be able to have that fortitude to keep pressing forward day after day. So as we go onto a bit more of the research from this, we talk about what grit is. And this is something that Don has often said where grit is, what separates the most successful people in the world from everyone else.

[00:08:34] And so according to Dr. Duckworth’s research, she looked at talent or effort. And so a question for you guys, which one counts more talent or effort?

[00:09:47] Audience: Effort, effort. Effort.

[00:09:50] Patrick: And of course we we’ve all been good students of grit. We’ve read the book, we know effort counts more, but do we really believe that? Because a lot of times in life you’ll hear people say, gosh, they’re so talented.

[00:10:05] I could never do that. And it’s so much about people making excuses, but if you really do look at it and look at Dr. Duckworth’s definition, The first part was, yeah, it does help to be talented in things, but you can’t just have God given gifts and never work on them, apply that effort, work really hard. And that turns into skill. And then where does that go?

[00:10:33] The next part is you take that skill and you put even more effort in. And that leads to achievement. And so in this, you could look at it and say, well, effort counts twice, right? Or is it even more than that? Because talent times, effort, times effort equals achievement, which means talent times, effort squared is achievement.

[00:10:57] So your effort is exponentially more important than your talent. So again, good news for all those that wanna work hard. Yeah. You gotta have some talent there, but work hard to really lead to that level of achievement that you’re for. All right. So moving on, would you like to improve your grit, and do you think that we’d have the ability to lots of head nods?

[00:11:24] Yes. And if anybody had any examples of how things that you might do that you’ve either done for yourself or seen in others? To improve our grit. See some coming through in the chat box, always never stop improving.

[00:11:44] Jason: Patrick doing a 30 mile hike. I think that that improves.

[00:11:50] Patrick: Well said Jason constant improvement.

[00:11:52] Yes, Kyle, that’s interesting. We wake up every day at the same time, the schedules and routines doing the habits. The

 [00:11:58] habits is huge part of this.

[00:12:01] John: I think to Jason’s point, you know, may ingest a little bit, but the 30 mile having that goal in your mind and knowing that, yeah, you’re gonna have to dig deep at some point or at a lot of points along the way, but goal setting, I think comes down as a, as a key component.

[00:12:17] Can you set that goal can like, even with our rocks and milestones, are there practical steps to get you there that you can focus on and dig deep and, and check those off and continue forward?

[00:12:27] Patrick: So well said, John, thanks.

[00:12:29] Audience: And to writes =-of, oops, sorry, go ahead, Kathy.

[00:12:32] Kathy: No, I, I was just gonna say before I read, um, the book read, I thought it was, you know, either in you or not, right? That ability to kind of persevere and it was, you know, part of who you were. Um, and you know, then looking back on things that I was proud that I accomplished along the way, whether it was, you know, mastering and then loving rock climbing and, you know, professional things as well. It was always because stuck with it or chose the harder route to, to kind of accomplish something.

[00:13:18]  And you know, so I, I, I can see how you can improve on it through all the tools that everybody is, you know, kind of coming into in, in the here and, In the chat.

[00:13:33] Patrick: Outstanding. Thank you so much for sharing Kathy. And I see Steven put in the chat box to participating for greatness by making time for listening to books. And absolutely a great way to continue to improve.

[00:13:45] And I think Kirsten you’re about to say something as well.

[00:13:47] Kristen: Thank you. Yeah. Um, you know, kind of riding off of the coattails of what Melanie just, uh, spoke about utilizing some of the tools that we have, um, alignments. Oh my gosh. Um, you know, even last night I was aligning with, with Matt and it’s so great because our leadership team helps you get there and helps alleviate if you IDs correctly, or just talk about some of your successes and some of the things that you’re stuck on.

[00:14:17] You’re able to conquer the fear together and kind of get a little bit more clarity on the path that you’re taking so that you can put more effort in, you know, that you’re taking the right steps. Um, you know, and, and I think that that helps me stay on course and know that I’m, I can keep going for it.

[00:14:38] And, um, where people say, no, you can’t. I know that I have the backing of some really great leaders, um, where I can say, oh, I can, and I’ll do it twice just to prove you. And that’s my grittiness.

[00:14:52] Patrick: So just to chime in here for a moment, what Kirsten is talking about in alignment, it’s a critical part of the elite

 [00:14:58] execution system that’s been implemented at DLP.

[00:15:02] Each month, leaders and reports get together for an alignment meeting to make sure they are aligned. They cover personal and professional successes on the path toward long term goals and they cover any issues they have. The other term Kirsten used was IDs. This stands for identify, discuss, and solve. So whenever a team member has issues, they bring them forward to IDs them or identify, discuss, and solve.

[00:15:30] This is the benefit of working within a system that provides the framework for big goal achievement. And these are the exact tools that we talk about on this podcast when you’re part of a supportive community with others who know your long term goals and are interested in helping you get there and you’re all using the common tools, like the elite journal to help you take daily actions to achieve those long term goals, everyone wins.

[00:15:56] Of course we’ll cover all these details and resources in the show notes at So you can get all you need there. And now back to the conversation.

[00:16:10] Like Kirsten, great example. And I see that Colin put in the chat too. Know your why. And I think that is a really important one that we’re just about to go into as well.

[00:16:18] So obviously all I answered it. Yes, we do have the ability to grow our grit. Dr. Duckworth said there are four ways if we intentionally direct our focus, we can improve our grit. One is develop a fascination with what you are trying to do. Number two, strive to improve daily. Number three, remind yourself of your greater purpose.

[00:16:47] And number four, as we talked about a top, adopt a growth mindset. So some great things that you can do there to focus on those four intentionally and remember, Don always talks about living with intentionality. That is definitely four ways that we can do it to improve. So this relates to what Colin had put in the chat box, knowing our why.

[00:17:09] Angela talks about the pyramid of goals. And if you look at this chart down at the bottom, it starts off the lower level goals, lower level goals might be considered like your daily to do list goals. Then that moves up to your mid-level goals. But then all of these should be leading up toward your top level goals, which some scientists have called your ultimate concern.

[00:17:30] Now that ultimate concern is a goal that you are absolutely tenacious about. Stubborn about you are aligned to you, go to bed thinking about it at night, you wake up in the morning thinking about it. That’s the ultimate concern that drives you when Dr. Duckworth has talked about it, she suggested that this be about 10 or so words.

[00:17:49] So as an example, what hers is, is to help children thrive using psychological science. So 

[00:17:58] everything she does is related to that ultimate concern for mine. It’s to inspire humanity, to rise above challenges, to live fit, fulfilled lives. And so if we’re thinking about our ultimate concern, you notice in the diagram here, one of the goal spots is missing on your low level goals.

[00:18:18] And that’s okay. You may write out a to-do list, but then you may change it. Some of your low level goals may go away, but that’s right, because you know, you are staying focused on your ultimate concern. You’re staying focused on your top level goals and little low level goals may change along the way to be able to make that happen.

[00:18:37] So not to put anyone on the spot, but ultimate concern is your top level goal. It’s a pretty lofty ambition. Uh, if somebody hasn’t come up with it already, no, no pressure. But if you have, if you have a top level goal that you’d like to share, what anyone like to share with their top level might be.

[00:018:56] Amanda: Yeah. I have a combination of two. Uh, one is to get my PhD and do a TED Talk.

[00:19:02] Patrick: Nice. I definitely look forward to seeing your TED Talk. Amanda.

[00:19:10] Awesome. Well, very good. Thanks for sharing. So, as we said, focusing on those big goals, you keep that top level goal, your ultimate concern in mind. That is what we wanna focus on. Set the goals that you can focus on years down the line. Liket getting that TED Talk, being able to do these big goals in life.

[00:19:30] And then while you do ’em, they may seem impossible today, but if you stay focused on ’em, that is what this is really all about. I mean, how many times have we compared things that we do in our daily life to our start with the company before you wanna be years down the line and then back into it? Well, what is the one year goal that you wanna get to then?

[00:19:50] What are the quarterly goals? The rocks. And then what do you have to do every two weeks to get there? Well, that’s your milestones. And then from there you get to your daily habits and daily. Mean, we have this system in place. That’s what ES is all about. And it’s just using the system to be able to make it happen.

[00:20:07] Cause as I said, achieving greatness requires sacrifice and setbacks. Grit is what pushes you through to fight through the hard things. It forces you to do what you need to do, even when you do not know, when you don’t, dunno what to do. Um, so it just keeps you moving forward. And here’s another long kind of description by Dr. Duckworth, but it, it gets to the point, cuz people will say, oh, just find your passion. But what she’s talking about here, this passion, this ultimate concern is much deeper than that.

[00:20:42] So what she said was what I mean by passion is not just that you have something you care about. What I mean is that you care about the same ultimate goals in an abiding, loyal, steady way.

[00:20:56] You are not capricious each day. You 

[00:20:58] wake up thinking about the questions you fell asleep, thinking about. You are in a sense pointing in the same direction, ever eager to take even the smallest step forward then to take a step to the side towards some other destination at the extreme one might call your focus, obsessive.

[00:21:16] Most of your actions derive their significance from their allegiance to your ultimate concern, your life philosophy. You have your priorities in order. Grit is about holding the same top level goal for a very, very long time. And so with that, I’d like to open it up again, again, for examples, if you have ’em, do you think we have the ability to build grit, others, teammates, children, others we work with?

[00:21:48] And if so, I’d love to ask how, and if there are any examples that you found in your own life that you could be willing to share, Jackie says in chat box emphatically yes.

[00:22:05] Jackie: I can just say from my experience, there was, um, definitely plenty of times growing up or things like that, where I wanted to quit. And it was just not an option. My parents, it was just, that is not an option. So figure it out or, you know, it is what it is. They just taught me that it just isn’t an option.

[00:22:27] Sometimes you do wanna quit. You wanna quit the sports team, you wanna quit this, but it, it literally was not allowed in my household. So, um, that definitely instilled grit in me. And I think it teaches me that it is something that can be taught and you can teach other people to have grit and to build on it for sure.

[00:21:47] Patrick: Awesome. I said, Jackie, thank you. And yes kay puts in the chat box yes by sharing your story and inspiration. Absolutely. Sarah looks like she’s leading by example, saying we always work out in their garage gym and have the kids hang with us. Even if they’re just playing, they’re watching us move. And a lot of times they want to get involved.

[00:23:04] We love it. That is awesome. They love that too. Kyle say and helping others find what they are passionate about typically will only see folks become laser focused on things they truly care about. Absolutely. So well said, these are all great, great points.

[00:23:20] All right. And for some specific examples and building grit and others using children as an example. So you obviously wanna appraise your children, encourage them and teach them to work hard. But when you do, it’s putting focus on the activities that will drive the desired results. So for example, if your child gets a great grade on the test, tell them I am so proud of how hard you worked and studied.

[00:23:45] Not just saying you are so smart. Maybe just to be similarly, if you’re in sports. Tell them I am so proud of how hard you’ve been practicing and working hard, not just you are so talented. So it’s also the language and the [00:12:00] way we give that praise, it can also help instill it enough. So as we get close to wrapping up here, we’re about to get to the final action steps.

[00:24:05] I’m just open it up one last time like this all seems to make sense. I mean, it’s stuff we know, but it’s put it into practice. And love to open up to you guys if there are any other closing thoughts before we move on to action steps on grit in your own life, applying it to others and helping others live with it.

[00:24:21] Steven: I think socially, um, openly communicating with others around you to help influence them, but also hold yourself accountable. I think that in all of our social networks we want to share, um, and we want to inspire. Um, and I, I think that, you know, a way to really build grit in others is not only to show them that you’re holding yourself accountable, but it’s also building the awareness that they have an open door to share with you about their grit, uh, and the ways that they focus and their priorities.

[00:24:54] Audience: Uh, so I think it’s a big social, um, uh, opportunity for us to, to work together, uh, in unison in this community. Uh, that’s part of our culture and it’s safe.

[00:25:06] Patrick: Awesome. Really well said. Thank you, Steven. And so then as we move to close, it’s always nice to wrap up with some action steps. So here are a few that you can do now.

[00:25:19] First off is taking the grit scale, actually, Angela scale. She has a grit test that you can take. And it’s interesting you, we talk about yes, you can improve your grit, take it once, then take it again later. You can get better at it. So even if you’ve taken it, go back, take it again. So that’s a great resource.

[00:25:36] Number two, complete your personal compass and define your top level goal. Your ultimate concern on that. You have your mission. I’ve added a purpose to mine. I added my ultimate concern to mine. So use the tools we have and expand it next, implement daily discipline habit that came up in our discussion earlier.

[00:25:55] Definitely wanna do that next combine, small, low level daily goals with a larger vision to stay consistently motivated. Next one, journal and track the daily metrics to improve daily. And then again, this came up earlier, join and attend groups to improve in business and life such as our driven for greatness book, where we get together to talk about books, to improve.

[00:26:21] And then bonuses obviously read the book at also other similar books, the compound effect and the power of, so with that, that is your core value, grit training for the day. Hope you enjoy it.

[00:26:36] All right there. It was. And thank you so much to everyone who participated in this discussion. I know we covered quite a lot there, so you can get all the details in the show notes at or for short And I’m sure going forward, you’ll have [00:26:56] even more passion and perseverance toward your long term goals.

[00:27:00] Just as we mentioned, the tools in today’s discussion on this podcast, we’re often talking about the tools we have available to us to put the habits into place, to take the daily. To help us reach our long term goals. All of these are linked in the show notes, and of course, we’re here as a community to help you along the way.

[00:27:21] If you resonated with this and would like to live, fit, and ignite change in your life, you can get started for free at, where you can join our community of high performers and get access to our kickstart resource. For free, you can choose if you’d like to start on the path to getting in the best shape of your life and or ignite the change you’d wish to see by casting a vision and taking the steps to get there.

[00:27:47] You can get plugged in at or for short also should start also my family and I we’re igniting the change that we wish to see in the world by helping others live. We were sick of all the processed sugar loaded foods and drinks marketed to us, especially to our youth.

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[00:28:31] Thank you so much for tuning in, and please be sure to like, share, rate and review the show. This is what’s needed to help reach more and serve more so together. We truly can ignite the change that we wish to see. Thank you so much for your help in making it happen. And I hope you make it an outstanding day and go forth to light love and serve the world and live the life you’ve always imagined.

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