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  • Jessica Stong

Where Grit Meets Courage

Can you have courage but not grit? Or grit but not courage? What’s the difference?

I want to take some time to explore the connection between courage and grit. To me, courage IS grit. But I realize I haven’t taken the time to discuss both within the context of each other.

Courage, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, is "mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty."

Grit is the combination of having passion for a long-term goal and then having the perseverance to pursue that goal energetically. 

Grit is not giving up when everything in you wants to run for the door. 

Grit is also knowing when to let go. 

Grit is about developing the strengths and skills and behavior and passion and patience to find something that we're willing to go deep on. 

Resilience is more short term behavior. Grit is something that you will be doing, usually for a very long time, and the only reason you're able to stay connected to it through setbacks and challenges and intermissions in life where you have to do something else, is because you have this intrinsic passion. 

Grit predicts accomplishing challenging goals of personal significance.

Grit is holding steadfast to a goal or goals. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.

Talent and luck matter to success. But talent and luck are no guarantee of grit. And in the very long run, I think grit may matter as least as much, if not more.


The way I see it, to be gritty is to have passion and perseverance about something in your life. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily engage in all possible pursuits with equal passion and perseverance. You can’t pursue becoming the best tennis player and at the same time a great painter, and a great social media influencer and chef and philosopher…But it’s also true, I think, that to be gritty means to pursue something with consistency of interest and effort. (Some people choose not to pursue anything in a sustained way - and that is lack of grit.)

Think about it though, if we don't have the courage to try, we wouldn't have grit.  And it takes courage to keep going, when the going gets tough. I’ve been thinking about the times in our lives when grit matters the most.

I’ve recently experienced a temporary setback. I was unable to work, found it hard to walk, or think clearly, and I just wanted to give up. And I did for a couple of months. But I have always been committed to encouraging others. I truly love supporting and cheerleading. It’s my passion. And while it’s taken me down many paths, I keep going because it’s my life’s mission. 

While I was down for awhile, I’m back. I’m not going to give up when the going gets tough. 


Angela Duckworth, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, who literally wrote the book on Grit suggests that it is a strong predictor of success and ability to reach one's goals.

Think about how you would respond to these statements:

  • Setbacks don’t discourage me for long. 

  • I am a hard worker.

  • I finish whatever I begin.

  • I never stop working to improve.

If you’d like, you can take her Grit Score assessment on her website. Your score not only reflects how gritty you are but also the standards to which you hold yourself - and even the stories you tell yourself about your grit. 


For your “homework" this week, I want you to consider:

  1. What stories do you tell yourself about how much grit you have?

  2. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Did it take courage, grit, or a combination of both? 

  3. Who has modeled grit in your life? 

Share your thoughts with us on social media - or even better -  we’d love to feature you on our blog or podcast! Please email us with your information. 

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