Music and the Spoken Word

Grit - Sunday, March 5, 2017

Why is it that the most successful people are not always the most gifted or talented? So often, exceptional students, accomplished writers, and championship athletes acknowledge that it isn’t natural ability that sets them apart from their peers—it’s their grit. And what is grit? One researcher defines it as “a combination of passion and perseverance in the pursuit of a long-term goal.”1 She offers a few examples: a cartoonist who submitted some 2,000 drawings to the New Yorker magazine before one was finally accepted; a below-average high school English student who became a best-selling novelist; a Super-Bowl quarterback who, after a disappointing first semester in college, wanted to quit and come home, but his strong but loving father told him, “You can quit…. But you can’t come home because I’m not going to live with a quitter.”2

According to this research, grit is a better predictor of success than innate ability—and ability does not make a person more likely to have grit. In fact, the research found that the higher a student’s test scores, the less gritty the student tended to be.3 As any teacher or parent can tell you, the child who has to work harder usually gets further ahead in the long run.

And that’s good news for all of us, because while innate ability can’t generally be taught or acquired, grit can. No matter what we have achieved or have not achieved in the past, we can start where we are right now and do something that makes us stretch. Whether it’s learning a new language, developing a hobby, eating a little healthier, or reaching out in friendliness to others—whatever it is, if we keep at it, then it can help us develop grit. In time, what at first seemed so challenging becomes easier. That’s the blessing of doing hard things.

So ask yourself, “What am I passionate about?” Then pursue it with perseverance. Stay with it and keep trying. Don’t worry if you aren’t the best or brightest, because it’s your grit, more than your talent, that will carry you through to success.

-Lloyd D. Newell

1. Angela Duckworth, in Emily Esfahani Smith, “The Virtue of Hard Things,” Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2016,
2. In Smith, “Hard Things.”
3. See Smith, “Hard Things.”

March 5, 2017
Broadcast Number 4,564

Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square

Mack Wilberg

Andrew Unsworth

Lloyd Newell

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Look to the Day
John Rutter

Allegretto, ma ben moderato, from Organ Concerto (in E-flat Minor,) op. 55
Horatio Parker

Be Thou My Vision
Irish melody; arr. Mack Wilberg

On a Clear Day, from “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever”
Burton Lane; arr. Arthur Harris

All Creatures of Our God and King
German hymn tune; arr. Mack Wilberg