My Summary & Thoughts of Angela Duckworth’s Harvard Business Review Talk on Finding Your Grit during a Crisis

Aleesa Toman
5 min readOct 15, 2020
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash You can find the full 35-minute talk by Angela Duckworth on YouTube now at the following link (also in the references below):

I recently watched the Harvard Business Review talk by Angela Duckworth about finding your grit during a crisis. I feel that this most correlates with our module in the class so far about handling stress at work. It’s all about being resilient during a time of high stress like the pandemic.

Angela Duckworth is a professor of psychology at The University of Pennslyvania, and she studies grit. She also published an extremely popular book called, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”, and she has been popularized as well by her TED talk. Grit is the perseverance and passion over a long term time frame for a goal. Duckworth believes this is the number one thing that separates people who achieve success and those who don’t. Grit is most associated with resilience in positive psychology.

Duckworth talks about the emotions during a crisis, and how it’s normal to experience stress and emotions in a variety right now. She says to allow yourself to experience them and to know this is ok. This is neat to learn and it goes back to understanding our natural reactions to stress. This is all human nature. This ties directly with the “Coping Strategies for Success” article we read when it said, “Give yourself permission to fall apart, feel rotten, and cry” as well as “Don’t berate yourself for having these reactions. After all, they are signs of your humanity.” All of what she says in the talk is actually giving people permission to feel bad and icky about what is going on and normalizing that this is totally acceptable, normal, and okay. She says also that what can help during the crisis is we can choose to focus on our positive response to stress and the crisis vs. choosing to be focused on what happened and the negative aspects of the crisis. We need to focus on what we’ve learned from the crisis and continue to use these our lessons to improve our life and our stress response.

Another thing she discussed is goal setting, and how those goals tend to be hierarchical… so, when we quit goals, it may not be that we’re falling off course but rather helping our higher-level purpose and goal in life. She says we need a higher-level purpose to help with grit. With so much uncertainty with the pandemic…

Aleesa Toman

Dreamer & Doer, Passionate about Personal & Organizational Growth, Lifelong Learner. Sign-up for my newsletter & follow me here: