Grit Is a Key Ingredient for Success

We can be talented, but without grit, we are less likely to succeed

Jill (Conquering Cognitions)
5 min readFeb 7, 2022


A climber scaling a huge ice wall.
Image by Simon from Pixabay

I love watching the Olympics. I feel inspired by the talented and hard-working athletes. Every competitor has a story, and many of them involve sacrifice.

An Olympian from years past has a story I will not forget.

At the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Dan Jansen was the gold medal favorite in the 500-meter speed skating sprint. He was 22-years old, and it was his second Olympic showing.

The morning of the event, Jansen learned that his older sister, Jane, had died from leukemia. It was a devastating loss.

With encouragement from his family, Jansen decided to compete in the race. He had trained for this day most of his life. Unfortunately, he fell in the first turn of the race, dashing his hopes for a medal.

Days later, he competed in the 1000-meter speed skating event where he was also a gold medal favorite and fell yet again. He arrived at the 1988 Olympics expecting to win and left empty-handed.

After learning of his sister’s death, Jansen could have withdrawn from the race. He could have packed his bags and returned home to the United States to be with his grieving family. People would have understood.

Instead, he chose to compete — in both events. He tried his best and displayed an impressive strength of character.

Would he come back in four years to compete again?


According to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Dictionary of Psychology, grit is “a personality trait characterized by perseverance and passion for achieving long-term goals.”

It is working hard for what you want despite adversity and failure.

A 2019 longitudinal study of 10,000 West Point cadets found that grit, compared to physical and cognitive abilities, was the best predictor of completing “Beast Barracks”, a grueling 6-week initiation program for cadets.

Furthermore, physical ability and grit were better predictors of successful graduation from West Point than cognitive abilities. This study concluded that grit plays a vital role…



Jill (Conquering Cognitions)

PsyD, Clinical Psychologist | Writer | Words in Human Parts, Forge, Better Humans | Life Lessons Supported by Science