It’s pretty obvious that there’s more to doing well in school—or, indeed, to getting ahead in any endeavor—than being smart. Apparently we’re supposed to call this nexus of qualities grittiness:
There’s a lot of interesting, if methodologically questionable, research on these findings. Check out this 2007 study, which attempted (via surveys, some administered online) to correlate the “grittiness” of a few thousand adults with their life outcomes. The researchers identified two major types of grit: “consistency of interests” and “consistency of efforts,” asking respondents to rate themselves on a 5-point scale as to whether “new ideas and new projects sometimes distract me from previous ones,” or “I have achieved a goal that took years of work.”
The study concludes that even when IQ is controlled for, grittiness is associated with degree attainment and higher GPAs. The grittiest people, however, do not have the highest SAT scores. Perhaps those who perform well on standardized tests have so many other advantages going for them that they aren’t forced to be particularly gritty in order to achieve their goals.
Personally, I only like to see the term used in the context of the southern breakfast food, the Liberal Party of Canada, or the phrase “gritty urban realism.”