Are you living your life like it’s a marathon or a sprint? Ted speaker Angela Lee Duckworth has a message to share about the “key to success” and that is that success is not determined by I.Q but by that unique trait that some are born with and others develop over time – grit. What exactly is grit?
Today’s blog post is a response to how I am feeling in this moment. Not wanting to break the chain I write today’s post in the midst of feeling quite frankly awful. My head hurts my body is overcome with some pretty serious fatigue. I feel like I am having a hangover, despite not having had a drink for weeks. Every part of my being wants to rest my head on a pillow and check out for the day, but there is a little voice inside my head, a voice that is being suffocated slightly by the Sandman who wants to bring me pleasant dreams, and that tiny voice that is struggling to get through is called grit. It’s hanging on by a thread today but it is pulling me through the other side.
What is grit?
According to Angela “Grit is like living life like a marathon, not a sprint” Grit means following through on long-term goals. Persevering through challenges and hurdles and never taking your eye off the goal. It means having enough
Talent and grit are not related
Angela Lee Duckworth spent many years teaching. During this time she noticed that her student’s I.Q was not the only differentiating factor between her best and worst students. She realised that some of her stronger students did not have high I.Q’s and some of her students with high I.Q’s weren’t doing so well on their grades.
Angela discovered that any of her students, regardless of there I.Q scores could learn the material, Angela taught maths, if they simply worked “hard and long enough.”
Angela has since become a psychologist and studies adults and kids in all different types of situations. At spelling bees she tries to predict which students will go the farthest, at a military academy Angela and her research team try and predict which students will drop out and which will graduate. These same tests were applied in a number of different contexts and what the research revealed was that the single most significant predictor of success was grit.
Why this is a big deal
Angela asked thousands of high school students from public schools in Chicago to take grit questionnaires. Those students who turned out to be grittier were significantly more likely to graduate. This was regardless of their family income, standardised test score and how safe they felt at school – grit trumped all of those things.
How often have you heard someone complain that they were not happy in their life? Perhaps they want to start a new career or launch a business but never actually take the action to get started. They usually blame their financial or work commitments as a barrier for them not taking the plunge. It’s just the wrong mindset. A grit mindset would be up for the long-term challenge and commitment and would find a way to work towards that new career or launch that new business around their solid commitments. A grit mindset would know that it might not happen overnight, but would know that they could find at least 30min-1hour a day to take tiny steps towards the goals.
How do I get grit?
One of the core things that Angela talks about is how talent does not make you gritty. The two are unrelated, so then how does one acquire talent. One idea developed by Dr Carol Dweck from Stanford University is that grit can be built in kids by teaching them that failure is not a permanent condition. A group of kids were taught about how the brain changes itself in response to challenges. This helped them link the idea that failure is not permanent.
Grit and leverage
When I think of grit I think of Tony Robbins and what he teaches about leverage. The basic idea is if you get enough leverage on yourself you can change any behaviour or drop any unwelcome habit.
For example what got me through writing this post today when I felt horrible was that I put enough leverage in my mind about all the reasons why not completing today’s instalment would make me feel bad. Every time I think of skipping a day all these bad feelings are triggered in mind making not completing a post not even an option.
Do you have any other ideas on how to become grittier? Would love to know in the comments below!