What is your grit level? Do you consider the power of passion and perseverance a critical factor that could determine your ability to forge ahead, stay on track and achieve the targets you have set?

In a 2013 TEDx Talk, Angela Lee Duckworth shared her interesting career shifts, the observations she made, the research that ensued and the findings that led her to recognize the value of what we could call the grit factor. So, what is this grit factor? It is the inner determination that feeds the power of passion and perseverance which is the mountain climberbackative for developing mastery, becoming successful in those areas or in any one of those areas that represents for us a personal value. Translated … each personal value is an asset embedded in our soul and this value has the potential to make us shine.

Let’s look at the Angela Lee Duckworth story. In her search to discover more about life and herself, Angela moved from the world of management consulting to the classroom. This change brought its own issues as she subsequently felt compelled to determine why Maths was a challenge for some of her bright 7th graders. She was confounded by the discovery that a high intelligence quotient (IQ) was no guarantee that a student would be among the top achievers in the classroom.

She sensed that excellence in performance was linked to motivation, and in her quest to understand the relationship between these two factors, she left the classroom and went on to study psychology. Her goal was to find out the root cause of success. What is the ingredient that top achievers have in common? After conducting research in diverse contexts, she came up with a single element that allowed some individuals to maintain the winning edge that would guarantee them a prime position in whatever task they opted to undertake. And what was this magical element?  

In sharing her findings, Duckworth started by clearly stating what it is not; it is “not social intelligence … good looks … physical health”; neither is it IQ. It is grit! … that is, “the passion and perseverance” to pursue “very long-term goals”; the stamina needed to unleash the ongoing supply of energy required to achieve the dream targets visualized which will mark the achievements of specific life goals.

Having talent always gives you a head start. Stick-to-itiveness is an asset in this game, but in order to accomplish your goal, you have to finish the race. Duckworth dramatically states that grit is “living life like it’s a marathon and not a sprint”.

Usain Bolt underscores the same thought using different words when he comments on his gruelling training sessions. According to Bolt, “the work is behind the scenes, the competition is the easy part”. In other words, behind the scenes, Bolt is also literally running a marathon in his daily life. And the result? He came to realize that he had more inside himself than he thought he had and ended up becoming a major player on the world stage.

It may be worthwhile to uncover our grit and test this model. In the same way that our five senses help us to navigate through the physical world, our personal values are the gifts we have within that guide our thought life. We are always being reminded that we are what we eat, however, our lives are guided and controlled by the blueprint created by our thoughts..

We are also what we think. What aspect of life are you passionate about? What makes you tick? If this response is not on the tip of your tongue, you have work to do. You need to dig deep and explore so as to identify and nurture your own personal values. This is a critical first step if you are going to manifest the energy of these personal values in your life, creating a lifestyle driven by your inner values.

But, what are these personal values?  Are they the same for all of us? A group of 38 tertiary level students in Jamaica who were participating in a course in Business Ethics were asked to list in order of priority their top ten personal values. The Table below summarizes their responses:


with 1 having the highest rating

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Honesty / Fairness 13 4 7   4 2 3 1 1  
Faith / Spirituality / Religion/ Religious beliefs 9 1 1   2 1        
Trustworthiness / True to self / Authenticity / Integrity 4 6 5 7 2 3 7 2 1 3
Family / Friends 3 5 4 2   1 1 2   1
Reputation / Value Awareness / Self-awareness 2           3 2    
Striving for the best / Success /

Academic Achievement / Fulfillment /

Ambition /Passion /Motivation /Growth

2   1 2 2 6 4 4 3 1
Loyalty 1 2 5 1 3 2   3 3  
Respect / Self respect 1 2 2 6 4 1 2 2 2 5
Love /Happiness 1 2   1 1   1 3 1 2
Kindness / Generosity/Altruism/

Service / Charity / Concern for others / Caring / Understanding /Compassion /

Empathy / Compassion /Grace / Helpfulness

1 4 3 3 1 3 3 4 4 4
Health 1 1           1 1  
Freedom 1 1                
Humility / Modesty   2   2 2     2 1 1
Reliability / Responsibility / Punctuality Accountability / Consistency /   2 2 2 1 2     1 1
Patience / Poise / Tolerance / Listening Skills / Self-control   1   1 2 2 1 2    
Justice   1   1   1        
Determination / Dedication / Diligence/ Commitment /Dependability   1 3 2 2 3 2 4 2  
Gratitude     1   1          
Morality     1         1   1
Optimism     1   1         1
Wisdom / Ability to reason     1 1   1   1   1
Innovativeness / Creativity / Initiative /

Industriousness / Abilities & Talents

      1 2 1 1   1 1
Adventure /Fun /Pleasure       1   1     2  
Leadership       1       1   1
Quiet Time / Relaxation / Peace       1   2       2
Team Building / Team Player /


        2 1 2   2 1
Stability / Life Balance / Sanity         2       2  
Politeness / Courtesy         1       9  
Independence / Self-reliance           2   2   1
Influence / Power / Wealth           1 1   1 1
Knowledge             1     1
Likeable / Amicable             1     1
Security             1      
Efficiency / Time               1 1  
Patriotism               1    
Acceptance                   1
Competitiveness                   1
My dog                   1

Note: The personal values identified by the survey participants have been grouped by the author.

The students participating in this exercise identified the following as their top ten personal values:

  1. Honesty / Fairness
  2. Faith / Spirituality
  3. Trustworthiness
  4. Family and Friends
  5. Reputation
  6. Striving for the Best
  7. Loyalty
  8. Respect
  9. Love and Happiness
  1. .Kindness / Generosity

What are your top ten personal values? Stop and prepare your list. This may be a good way of checking where you are on the journey. Is there enough evidence of your personal values in your daily life? In order to bring our personal values to the fore, many of us start the process by flirting with these values; we recognize how important they are, we are conscious of their worth and their significant role in our lives, but in order for us to imbibe them and make them echo as we listen to our inner voice, we literally have to become pregnant with the idea of each of these values.

We have to consciously nurture each of these personal values, our invisible assets, within a protected inner environment, and as each value blossoms and matures, we experience renewal. And guess what? At the end of this process, you turn up as you! You are simply inspired to “do you” as Jamaican athlete Omar McLeod said after a brilliant performance on the track.

In Outliers, Malcolm Gradwell provides us with guidelines to support and finetune this process when he speaks of the 10,000-hour rule; in other words, like a skill or talent, we need to practice each innate value consistently, with love and passion, so as to achieve mastery. This concept, put forward by Gladwell, is supported by the work of a group of “brilliant psychologists” in the field of expert research.   

So, a personal value is somewhat like a gift or talent. We know we have a knack for doing that thing, in the same way that we know deep down how we feel about a certain issue. Therefore, our inner voice points us to the values that resonate with us, the values that we recognize as true. But, do we have the grit to take the necessary steps to nurture them and make them bloom so that these values will become an innate part of our lives? If we stick to the programme and achieve the desired outcome, we will experience some form of inner transformation which will evidence itself in our everyday lives. We will become literally a picture of the values for which we own the blueprint.

Brian Tracey supports this viewpoint when he tells us that “high self-esteem requires that you have clear values, virtues and ideals to which you are committed and by which you live” because “your values lie at the core of your personality”. Tracey goes on to say that top performers “have clear values that they will not compromise for any reason”.

What are the personal values that you treasure and will not compromise for any reason?

I invite you to embark on the exciting journey of discovering and assessing your own personal system of values: your blueprint. Are you managing your life guided by a values-based strategy? I encourage you to reveal the inner treasures “at the core of your personality”. This process will help you to unravel one of the greatest resources embedded in your soul — Hope.

According to Deepak Chopra, this treasure we call hope is “the engine of love”. He drew a parallel with the seed reminding us that in the plant world the “seed is the promise of the blossom”, while in our human journey hope is the “promise of our spiritual awakening”. It’s time to forge ahead on this journey of self-discovery so as to unleash our inner blueprint and experience the joy of inner freedom powered by hope. Earl Thomas Womens Jersey

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