Grit by Angela Duckworth

This is what Will smith the famous actor had to say in his interview to the author of this wonderfully researched book on “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth.

“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is: I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me. You might be all of those things. You got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple.”

I have been generally fascinated or rather biased towards books that tells me if a particular attribute of the self can be built or cultivated over a period of time.

Author defines Grit as “Perseverance and Passion” for long term goals.

I recently analyzed Serena Williams Grand Slam records. Her age at the first major title was 17 and her age at the 22nd major title, recent Wimbledon was 34. She has equalled Steffi Graf’s record and set to beat her record as well. In whatever way I see this, it is an example of “Applied Grit”.

The book answers the question(s) of

  • ‘Why Grit is important’
  • ‘Can Grit be cultivated’ in normal individuals ?
  • ‘How to Cultivate it’ ?

Srini Rao in his wonderful podcast Unmistakable creative, interviewed his mentor, Greg Hartle and asked him about the kind of key qualities of successful people. Greg responded, he considered talent, intelligence, grit and resilience are what he considers as the key qualities. When Srini asked his trademark question of out of these four what are natural and what could be cultivated, Greg responded that while talent and intelligence are the amongst the in-born qualities and there is certain element of natural difference, the other two qualities of grit and resilience are cultivated.

Personally as a cricket fan I think the comparables are Sachin for the talent and intelligence, not that he lacks in grit and resilience, but take a MS Dhoni, not short on  talent and intelligence, but you can see grit and resilience personified and most in our country keep them at a pedestal and possibly well deserved as well.

Here is a nice quote that I found about being gritty

In other words, gritty people believe, “everything will be alright in the end, and if it is not alright, it is not the end.”1

So the natural question that might arise in you is , have I become more gritty ? Well my answer would be is that ‘I am aware of where I am less gritty’ and I always myself as a continuous work in progress.

For the overtly curious you can check your grit score here

Watch her Ted talk on Grit at

Angela Duckworth’s TED talk

Be Gritty. Stay Tuned.

Enjoy Maadi. (Have Fun)


1Gritty People

When Breath Becomes Air


A review by T.K.Ramesh

Please raise your hands, if you have cried while watching a movie? How many of you cried while reading a book? I did recently.

“Able was I ere I saw elba” said the great Napolean Bonaparte, and I say

“Stronger was I till I read When Breath Becomes Air”.

I have never been moved so much by a book. This book “When Breath Becomes Air” by Dr. Paul Kalanidhi or should I say Late Dr. Paul Kalanidhi appeals to your noble emotions as a Toastmaster would do in delivering his project 10 “Inspire your audience”.

When I say Late, I am not talking about an aging neurosurgeon, but I am talking about a neurosurgeon, who was just 36 and had so many dreams for his career and his family!

At the age of 36, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanidhi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. An just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed by the question of what, given that organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life”, into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

In Dr. Kalanithi’s vivid writing, the early childhood and adulthood of Dr. Kalanithi unfolds in front of you and transports you to their neighbourhood Kingman, Arizona, which 100 miles from Las Vegas.

The book presents interesting case studies of Dr. Kalanithi during his internship as neurosurgeon and how he coped with the stress and strain of being a doctor whose surgeries were successful, but could not save the patients who were terminally ill due to tumor or cancer.

  • What makes life worth living in the face of death?
  • What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present?
  • How do you deal with your life, when all your plans for a great married life with career and children is suddenly no more in front of you?
  • What does it mean to have a child, nurture a new life as another fades away?

There are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in his profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all.

“I began to realise that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything”. He wrote “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: I can’t go on, I’ll go on”.

“When Breath Becomes Air” is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death, and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.

I would recommend this book to any adult audience who is keen to learn about vagaries of life or who is very ambitious and does not know the value of quality time to be spent on himself and with his near and dear.



A Reading List – Management and General

I will fill in the actual author, URL’s and a note on what I like about these books shortly , but an amazon search will possibly give a more accurate review of what these books has to offer and may be excite you as well. These are in no particular order, but in my view these are pretty decent and compelling reads

Crucibles of Leadership
A lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and off the court
Man’s Search for Meaning
Emotional Intelligence
The art of possibility
Questions of Character
Leadership and Self-Deception
Become a Technical Leader
Good to Great
Business Model You
Resonant Leadership
Drucker on Leadership
Leading Quietly
The power of Habit
Reverse Innovation
Built to Last
Changing Minds
The new age of innovation
The Black Swan
The Ascent of Money
The Power of Now
The Secret
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Wings of Fire
The case of Bonsai Manager
Code Named God
To Begin Where I am
Just for Fun
Predicatably Irrational
Four steps to Epiphany
Breakout Nations
Reality Check
The back of the Napkin
Difficulty of Being Good
Surely you are joking Mr Feynmann
Fortune at the bottom of the pyramid
Will Power
Management by Drucker
Fifty Psychology Classics
Sophie’s World
A whole new mind
The Journeys of Socrates
Our Iceberg is Melting
Presetnation Patterns
Talent is Overrated
Persuasive Presentations
Emotional Design
Delivering Happiness
The Art of Happiness
The Impact Equation
Employees First Customers Second
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
The Owner’s Startup Manual
Bertrand Rusell – An autobiography
Checklist Manifesto
Crucial Conversations
Made to Stick
To Engineer is Human
The Halo Effect
Moonwalking with Einstein
Make your Ideas Matter
An Inconvenient Truth
The journey of the accidental leader
The War of the Art : Winning the Inner Creative Battle
The Cluetrain Manifesto
The wealth of Nations
Meatball Sundae
The Icarus
Good Business
Confessions of a Public Speaker
Presentation Zen
Ten faces of Innovation
The Art of Innovation
The Wisdom of Crowds
The Intention Economy
Making  Ideas Happen
The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur
The Accidental Creative
Unusually Excellent: The Necessary Nine Skills Required for the Practice of Great Leadership
HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Managing Yourself (with bonus article “How Will You Measure Your Life?” by Clayton M. Christensen)
Your Erroneous Zones