Grit and the Qualities to Succeed

Having just arrived in Macau, I am still getting the chance to meet you; however, the warm welcome and feeling part of the community definitely makes all the difference in settling in. My journey to TIS was definitely the most challenging thing I have done and continually tested my resolve. Many times I doubted if I was ever going to make it.

Having started the journey back on 1 December  2020, when I accepted the position with the Student Services Team, the process tested me in ways that I could not have foreseen. Almost all of the people who shared and supported me used the word grit and I was elated to see the school tagline #GrowingWithGrit when I arrived. This led me to ask, what exactly is grit, and how is it linked to success?

How TIS views the word 'grit'. It inspired our tagline for 2021/22 #GrowingWithGrit

Angela Duckworth, Ph.D (2017) is the author of the book called Grit and is an American psychologist who has worked with organisations such as the White house, The World Bank, NBA and NFL teams after graduating from Harvard and Oxford universities. She describes grit as “a combination of passion and perseverance” (Duckworth, 2017, p8). This suggests that grit is an ability and skill that we can learn, allowing us to keep going when challenged.

Angela dedicated years studying grit and attitudes, creating a twelve item Grit Scale that accurately determined who possesses grit and how much. Her test was utilised in schools, universities and West Point military academy. The Grit Scale accurately determined which participants successfully gauged their answers to a questionnaire prior to the challenge. However, success is not guaranteed through the possession of grit alone. Dr. Kai Swigart, Ph.D (2022) cited on the Talk Doctors website believes that “problems become the lessons learned upon your journey to success” meaning that we must learn to overcome problems as well. 

At some point in our lives we have all faced or will face problems and challenges that can seem insurmountable. That will demand grit to keep going, plus our best knowledge to find solutions to succeed. Living with the pandemic has certainly thrown new problems at us all, with Cushing (2021) arguing that this new way of being will be here for the foreseeable future. However, we have been able to adapt and remain focused on our goals and things of importance. In a world where there are more distractions and stimuli, students and adults can easily lose sight of these destinations.

This is why good habits are so important; Dr. Kai Swigart, Ph.D ( 2022) explains, “we need to choose them (habits) carefully, and change them if necessary; to ensure that they accurately reflect who we really are, and focus on the things that matter most”. This is why at TIS, students are required to set goals and are reported on their Approaches to Learning (ATL’s). These approaches are reinforced and guided by the TIS Tiger Traits and the IB Learner Profile, both of which focus on resilience, arguably another name for grit, because of its links to success.


Amazing feats and achievements are the culmination of hard work and dedication; they are seldom achieved without help and input from others. As an inclusive school, we understand that we are all different, learn differently and have different needs. We also understand that these challenges can be related to mental health, English being a second language, or a learning challenge. These can all impact a student's readiness to learn. However, having the right attitude can help break down these barriers.  A recent conversation with a 12th grade student allowed me to understand attitude better when he said, “my responsibility as a student is academia”. TIS students have access to a range of expert counsellors, both academic and Psychological, teachers and peers who all share their desire to be successful.

In my short time at TIS, I have witnessed the commitment to improvement in many ways, both in and outside the school. There are students in the gym before school, practising their volleyball serve. While others get out of bed early to join their teacher and classmates to practice their reading skills, access extra tutoring after school for language, practice their musical skills over the weekend, or play through the rain despite being down 3-1 against a rival school. These students are to be celebrated as they develop the good habits and skills needed for success. They shape the habits for improvement, even when they don't want to or are tired and prefer to stay in bed (which teenagers don't?). But they persevere. These are the habits that prepare them for the challenges in their future and lead them to success at their chosen destinations. Skills and knowledge will take you far, attitude to life will take you further.

TIS encourages honing personal qualities and habits that students will be required to call upon when life throws curve balls or serves lemons. Whilst they may often complain or moan, this sets them up for success in life and develops the likelihood for success and GRIT! Go Tigers! 

Wishing you all a very happy and prosperous new year. 


Approaches to learning: Literature review. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2022, from

Cushing, E. (2022, January 26). Late-stage pandemic is messing with your brain. The Atlantic. Retrieved February 20, 2022, from 

Goodreads. (2017, January 1). Grit: Why passion and resilience are the secrets to success by Angela Duckworth. Goodreads. Retrieved February 20, 2022, from

Habit forming. Talkdoctors. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2022, from 

International Baccalaureate. (n.d.). The IB Learner Profile.

TIS. (n.d.). Tiger Traits 2021-22

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