Grit. What is it? Can you develop it?
The power of Passion and Perseverance
This book is written by American Psychologist Angela Duckworth. You can learn more about her here
I enjoy books written by scientists. Just like to nerd out and share my insights!
What I found most thought provoking about this read….
Talent Vs. Effort
In the first section of the book. Angela discusses the topic of talent vs. effort. Do people rank someone higher if they are a “natural” at something or, someone who works very hard as a “striver”? The things that we TELL our children and ourselves is that… “if you put enough effort into something, then you can be as good as anyone else!” However, when push comes to shove, we identify to ourselves quietly (or loudly) that, “oh that kid is just a NATURAL” at something and maybe our kid just doesn’t “have it”. So my thought was.. How long do we keep encouraging our children to persevere at sport, music or an academic pursuit? When in actual fact, we have a secret bias of favoring talent over effort. Do you? Who eventually wins the race? The talent or the effort?
How do we get Grittier?
What I intended to find out by reading this book was, ‘Can we become ‘Gritter’? (As I’ve wondered this about myself). Research shows yes, you can grow it. Angela noted four elements to developing your grit from within. Interest – finding something you actually care about doing, what you like doing or like thinking about. Then doing purposeful practice regularly. I feel many of us stop actively practicing our skills when we get into adulthood.. we just get distracted by just going through the motions of life. Next, she found that you needed to find Purpose in the development of skills or Grit. I think this doesn’t have to be some middle age crisis. You can find this at any age! She noted that your purpose may change over time…and that either your skills and effort are driven FROM purpose or, purpose is created by your new found passion. The last element she noted was, Hope. I don’t exactly know if this hit the mark for me. Here she talked about mindsets being fixed or fluid (look up Carole Dweck’s - Mindset – another fantastic book). Do you have the belief that you can change or grow? It seemed that people with fixed mindsets found little hope that they could make or be change. I don’t ever want to think that someone is stuck with a mindset of “oh well, that’s just the way I am. I’ll never change”. Na, no way! That is defeatist talk my friends. And that isn’t you! Not now.
Who Can help us?
Growing Grit from the outside in, referred to the role of our teachers, mentors and parents. They have an important role to play too. Angela found that there seems to be a sweet spot for fostering Grit in young people. You have to be that Supportive AND Demanding mentor… as opposed to a… Strict authoritarian, stand over your child with a smacking stick while they practice piano, type person. ( Hey it might work, but I doubt It’ll foster a love for learning or a true passion). Flip side….. letting your kids quit any time things get challenging isn’t ideal either. Being absolutely complacent with everything will probably produce just that average result.
For us adults, we just need to continue to have role models. Look at inspiring people who have overcome massive hurdles in their own lives, and shown grit like nothing else! We all admire a good adversity story. Why? Is it because we inherently admire grit? That our biggest human achievements came from people with enormous Grit? Is that quality what set them apart to make them great?
What do we do now?
The over arching message that I got from this book was about taking matters into your own hands. Yes, you were influenced by your parents/teachers/coaches, BUT you really are responsible for your own growth. No one can make the true change for you. It starts with a moment, or a series of moments when you realize. Actually no, I’m better than this or I deserve better. Then you make a change.. be it little or big. Never compare your progress to others either. It wastes your precious time. You do you! Do it now.
Be grateful you’re alive and move your body and mind!!