The ONE thing that all successful people have in common

When the Ted Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth about the Key to Success went viral, I was skeptical at first so I did some digging.  Duckworth did extensive research on military cadets, spelling competition contestants, teachers and salespeople. The aim is to find out why one person succeeds and another fails.

Secret to Success

One of the traits that emerged time and time again she argued was GRIT. That is the Superpower that all successful people possess. Grit is the ability to persevere and endure undesirable condition for the passion of long-term goal. It is the stamina and staying power no matter what happens, no matter how long it takes.

Grit and the Quran

Interestingly enough grit sounds very much like a word in the Quran. It is mentioned 90 times, and carry a great significance in Islam. The word is Sabr which is often if not always translated as patience. This is probably the most misunderstood word in the Qur’an.

More than Grit

But the word of Sabr in the Quran if it is translated accurately and in context would take a whole paragraph to explain (not paragraph like this but a truly academic paragraph which makes normal people overwhelmed). Sabr encapsulate grit which is the key to success, and it is much much much more.  Sabr in the Quran means at least 3 things:

The meaning of Sabr by Mufti Menk


This something that can only be explained by the saying “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. This is the stamina the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions.Not because you have no other choice like staying in a job that you hate. But you endure something because of a bigger goal and reward is normally unseen.



This is how Sabr is commonly understood. You need to hold your tongue and not hurt others with your word.  But in the Qur’an, your act of restraint carries more weight when you first tempted to do something. The value goes down as time goes by. This is also a trait of success and it is explained as impulse control in a book call The Triple package by Amy Chua.

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This is the hardest thing to do. When you face hardship do you accept it with an open heart and say “This is my situation right now and not much can be done, but I still got many things to be grateful for”. Acceptance here which is part of Sabr is, that you accept your situation with gratitude and optimism.The interesting thing is the link between Sabr and was only discovered recently, but it has been around with us Muslim, for more than 1400 years in Surah Al Imran Ayah 200.

What Duckworth research did was to confirm the link between Sabr and success. We are asked to exercise Sabr in the Quran is not because there is nothing else could be done. But in actual fact, it is the bridge to success.

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Reading suggestions:

  1. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Lee Duckworth
  2. Grit for Kids: 16 top steps for developing Grit, Passion, Willpower, and Perseverance in kids for self-confidence and a successful life by Lee David Daniels

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