ATD 2021 kicked off with a lively and engaging keynote from Angela Duckworth. She began with stories from her childhood and how her family placed a high value on achievement, success, and achievement. She knew she wasn’t the smartest person in her class or in school, and this concerned her. She also knew her father frequently talked about people being smart. Or not. 

This inspired her research to find a common denominator among high achievers. She found that it’s not at all related to your IQ or innate giftedness. It’s all about grit and what you can learn and develop. She’s even created a grit scale so you can see how you rate. This is good news for ATD. “Our job at ATD is to help people get better sooner,” she said.  

“Grit is sustained passion and perseverance for especially long-term goals.” 

She broke down this concept starting with passion. She explained that passion is a voluntary obsession where people love what they do. Combine this with a consistency of commitment and working hard over a long time. Passion and perseverance working towards long-term goals. As employers, how can we nurture grit in our teams? 


Building Grit 

Duckworth explained that interest is the first seed of grit. As a manager or a trainer working with employees, how can we kindle interest in their job?   

  • Practice like an expert. She shared multiple stories about how well-known experts practice. They break down larger skills into smaller parts. Pick one at a time that’s harder than the others and practice that skill with absolute concentration and intention. Get feedback and reflect. She explained that experts are hungry and thirsty for feedback. 
  • Cultivate purpose. Every day people need to be reminded about how their work contributes to the bigger picture. It’s not just about sales and revenue. It’s also about your mission and vision. When employees understand that higher purpose, you have a better chance of igniting the passion that you need to build grit.  
  • Build a growth mindset. This is a belief that humans can change and develop. It’s belief in “yet” which means that you know or expect something to happen in the future. In the face of adversity, on a bad day, in a pandemic, we need a growth mindset. 
  • Build a supportive culture. We need to cultivate individuals and help them build relationships. Create a culture where it is ok to lean on other people. They are a source of strength. 


Training Grit 

When I attend sessions at an industry event like ATD21, I listen for new trends or topics that relate to the business of employee training and how we can bring more value to our clients. In this case, I see opportunities to curate a curriculum to help train grit with these courses from our Business Skills library.  

  • Giving Feedback 
  • Asking for Feedback 
  • Helping Your Employees Find Purpose 
  • Growth Mindset Series 
    • The Growth Mindset: Embracing “Yet” 
    • Developing the Growth Mindset 
    • Limitations of a Fixed Mindset 
  • Liven Up Your Culture 
  • Developing a Learning Culture 
  • Leadership: Organizational Culture and Values 

Additional related courses in our Business Skills library to help create a supportive culture would include diversity, equity and inclusion training topics, emotional intelligence, team building, and collaboration.  

If you want to view any of the courses related to building grit, sign up for a free trial of Thinkzoom, our LMS and you will have access to our complete Business Skills library. If you create all your training in-house, hopefully, you can use these topics for inspiration.  


Additional Resources 

Read more in Angela Duckworth’s book: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance


Chris Scherting

Written by Chris Scherting

Chris Scherting’s passion for marketing began in grade school where she served several terms as Commissioner of Publicity and Public Relations. She graduated from St. Louis University with her BSBA in Marketing and her MBA. She has worked for some of the most well-known brands in St. Louis including the St. Louis Cardinals, Charter Communications (now Spectrum), and Maritz. She joined ej4 in December of 2016 with the goal to bring her big brand experience to a growing company.

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