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Angela Duckworth Addresses Students at the 2017 Aspen Challenge, Philadelphia

Aspen Institute,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

“Grit” is the single most important quality for achieving excellence.

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Editorial Rating



  • Concrete Examples
  • Eloquent
  • Inspiring


What compels high achievers to excel? Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, examines this question. Her sage, inspiring speech, packed with evidence from interviews and science-based studies, gently persuades her audience – high-achieving students – to continue on the road in pursuit of excellence. People of all ages who take her advice to heart can learn to move beyond mediocrity.


Psychologist Angela Duckworth studies high-performing individuals, including Olympic athletes and Nobel Prize winners, to find out what habits and rituals set them apart from everyone else. She has found that “grit” – a combination of perseverance and passion – is a common characteristic among high achievers. Those who excel in a given field work hard, sustain their unwavering passion over many years and persist when obstacles emerge.

When you practice a new skill, you improve at first. Many people, however, stop learning at some point and plateau. Others quit and their skill wanes, because “skills...

About the Speaker

Angela Duckworth is a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

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