A Group Helps to Persist When Things Get Tough

In his book “The Power of Habit,” Charles Duhigg shares an intriguing study, one that shines a light on what helps when everything else fails. Researchers were scratching their heads, trying to understand why some folks tend to drop out of demanding schools while others stick it out.

To kick things off, they sized up various characteristics of first-year students, such as self-discipline. They then zeroed in on the key quality that those who managed to stay the course and complete their education had in spades. This trait was “grit” – a bias towards hard, introspective work, a knack for facing challenges head-on, and the ability to keep going and stay interested over many years, despite stumbling blocks, setbacks, and standstills in progress.

But, as it turns out, even grit wasn’t the be-all and end-all. There was another factor, something that almost slipped through the researchers’ net. One student hit the nail on the head:

I found this group of guys in the first couple of days here, and we started this thing where, every morning, we get together to make sure everyone is feeling strong. I go to them if I’m feeling worried or down, and I know they’ll pump me back up. There’s only nine of us, and we call ourselves the musketeers. Without them, I don’t think I would have lasted a month here.

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