Talent vs Grit

Mickey Mellen
2 min readDec 21, 2021

In a recent episode of Maya Shankar’s podcast, she had an episode titled The Science of Grit., where guest Angela Duckworth defined grit as “a power combo of passion and perseverance”.

The crux of the episode was about the difference between “grit” and “talent”, not unlike the comparison I made with “talent” and “skill” in the movie Rudy. You’re born with talent — you work with grit.

Actor Will Smith is famous for his work ethic, and this video shows a bit of what he means:

If you can’t see the video, the main part of Smith’s talk is this:

You might have more talent than me
You might be smarter than me
You might be sexier than me
You might be all of those things.
You got it on me in 9 categories.
But if we get on a treadmill together, right, there’s two things:
You’re getting off first, or I’m gonna die.
It’s really that simple.


It reminds me of my time in Little League Baseball and a teammate named Tim. Tim was incredibly talented, but incredibly lazy. He could have been the best ballplayer in our city, but chose to remain mediocre by just loafing through every part of the game. He had immense talent and virtually no grit.

While I’m picking on him here, my guess is that most of us have done that somewhere or another.

Grit or Quit?

Another insightful piece that Angela brought to the podcast was posing the question of knowing “ when to quit and when to grit “. If you’re in a tough situation, the best move is often to quit. Burying yourself deeper into sunk costs is never wise, and quitting early can be great, so it can sometimes be difficult to know when to quit and when to grit.

For that, I think it goes back to what you love and what you want. If you’re doing something you love in pursuit of something you really want, grit can take you further along that path. If you have that passion, and put perseverance behind it, you’ve found some grit and it could lead to great things.

Originally published at https://www.mickmel.com on December 21, 2021.

Mickey Mellen

I’m a cofounder of @GreenMellen, and I’m into WordPress, blogging and seo. Love my two girls, gadgets, Google Earth, and I try to run when I can.