What is ‘grit’?
How do we develop it?
Why do we need it?
As a mother and a teacher it has been important for me learn how to build perseverance, resilience, self-control, and stamina in our tomorrow leaders. Setting and reaching long term goals is an important part of growing up into adulthood.
So this ‘Think Out Loud’ post is about ‘Grit’
What it is, how we get it and why we need it.
I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘Grit’ demands perseverance and risk taking.
Angela Duckworth, the psychologist and researcher who coined the term “grit”, defines it as the “passion and perseverance for long term and meaningful goals”.
To become successful in reaching our long term goals we need to be willing to step out of our comfort zones and take risks. Successful people just don’t give up – they become ‘gritty people’.
Failure Is Not the End
I think the first lesson to learn when seeking grit, is that failure is not the end. As our sons grew up they shared their dream goals with us: our eldest son wanted to explore the musical industry , our second son wanted to play cricket for Australia and our third son wanted to swim for Australian.
None of their goals quite turned out the way they planned and yet none were seen as failures – only adjustments to the journey towards reaching their goals.
James Dyson failed 5127 times before he succeeded in creating the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner that made him a billionaire.
We encouraged our sons to develop grit in order to gain traction to reach the goals they had set for themselves. The needed to become ‘gritty people’ and become independent beyond the natural talents and skills with which they were blessed.
“Without grit, talent may be nothing more than unmet potential”. (Duckworth 2016)
Setting and reaching goals is an important part of growing up and we are proud of the adults they have become today. Truth, honour, integrity and stick-at-it-ness were specific goals we wanted to incorporate into our ‘family curriculum’. Whether they worked to improve their school grades, excel in sports or to learn a musical instrument, we could see the passion each one possessed to maintain the discipline and focus to preserve to achieve their goals.
We offered support in the form of praise and encouragement, transportation, time and of course financial contributions for event registrations, coaching, equipment as well! But true grit became apparent when they became adults and needed to invest their own time, finances and transportation to achieve their goals.
Gritty people keep going despite adversity.
#1 Son– Didn’t get to pursue a musical career: At the end of 2016 our eldest son gave up his job and his accomodation to follow his girlfriend back to Sweden to start a new life together. However, by the end of 2016, nearly 5.2 million refugees and migrants reached European shores and visa applications were brought to a standstill. Homeless, jobless and without the love of his life he returned home with us and waited for 13 months before his visa was approved. Not one to let the grass grow under his feet he injected his passion for guitars into a now thriving business. Our home became a venue for guitar restoration. He now lives in Sweden with his girlfriend and has completed two University language courses and is now undertaking a guitar making course at Uppsala University.
#2 Son: Didn’t get to play for Australia. As an unorthodox left arm spinner, he was often chosen to provide net practice for visiting teams from around the world. He got to bowl against players from South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and of course the Australian team in the nets too. He filled a spot on the English summer cricket seasons. On these journeys he met new friends and planned a trek to the Mt Everest Base Camp in 2014. It was his grit and determination that drove him to complete the more difficult 20 day blood thickening trek to 5564m above sea level sometimes on his hands and knees through Death Valley and Chola Pass. Feeling much improved after a night’s sleep at the Base Camp he joined his team to trek up to Kala Pata to view the sunrise over Mt Everest. Sadly they witnessed the 1500 year old ice sheet sheer off, killing 16 climbers preparing to complete the assault. No time to rest up – all able bodied trekkers became part of the emergency rescue team.
#3 Son – Nearly missed the Sydney 2000 Paralympics: He joined the Paralympic Squad to train for the Sydney 2000 Paralympics however an unexpected life threatening spinal surgery put a stop to that as well as he underwent a very long and painful recovery where he had to learn to sit, walk and breath again. Swimming was off the bucket list. However through sheer grit and determination he was asked to join the team three years to the day he was put on life support and the rest is history…
Surround yourself with gritty people.
One of the best tips to grow your grit is to surround yourself with gritty people whose values and goal setting influence your values and goals. Its a kind of positive peer pressure – especially if they are your own sons!