Grit, Grit and more Grit

If there is one word my daughter has heard growing up, it is the word GRIT. I have used this word more times with her than with my other two kids because it appears there is never a dull moment in her brain box. She comes up with so many ideas, some amazing ideas and some crazy ones too! And while I want to encourage every idea, I cannot practically encourage all the ideas that pass through this small head of hers and I am not quite sure I should. For one, there is a financial, time and energy constraint to me as the parent. Second, to be successful with any of these ideas, she has to narrow them down to one or two that fascinate her enough and stick with them until she attains a reasonable level of achievement and this usually takes time. And so, when a new idea is popping up, my first word to her is GRIT. So now, before I even get to the R in G-R-I-T, my daughter completes the word, turns around and then just walks away especially when she knows this idea of hers may not pass our GRIT test.

What Is GRIT?

Grit is “perseverance and passion for long-term goals” (Angela Duckworth, 2007). What determines whether we have grit or not is:

1. The ability to stick with long-term goals and

2. The ability to keep going even when faced with challenges and adversity.

Why Do We Need GRIT?

Without grit it is impossible for an individual to achieve a sustainable level of success and significance in any area of endeavor. High IQ/EQ and talent is not enough to achieve long-term goals. This is particularly noteworthy for parents of the genZ and many millennials who are attracted to quick success at the click of the button. Helping kids from a young age to grow grit is essential.

Can We Grow GRIT?

The simple answer is yes. How? 

In going through previously published research that has been done on grit, these are five that recur the most times. Here goes:

  1. First, find something that fascinates. Parents can help children identify what they do well with ease and support them to keep at it. For some that which fascinates does not pop out easily. These people have the benefit of trying out different things with the intention of discovering passion. Discovering passion is different from (in Duckworth’s words) “being a shiny fast boat going to many places but going nowhere”. Or as a friend of mine suggests throwing everything at the wall to see which will stick. Discovering passion is a deliberate attempt to find that thing that inspires strong emotions (excitement, fascination, frustration, discontentment, dissatisfaction) from within. It has often been said that if something bothers you enough, that may just be indication you are the one for the job of fixing it.
  2. Show up everyday. It was famous actor Woody Allen who stated that 80% of achieving and succeeding at our goals is accomplished by just showing up consistently. Practice, practice, more practice.
  3. Connect your goal to a higher purpose other than self. Self adulation is not enough to keep you on the grind even when everything that could go wrong goes wrong. The realization that your goal helps other people will fuel motivation to keep showing up
  4. Believe! What you believe, you can achieve. Beware of limiting beliefs. They creep up ever so slowly and have a negative impact on one’s ability to achieve set goals. Believe you can, and you will.
  5. “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are” This was one of my dad’s favorite phrases to me growing up as a teenager. I never really understood or liked it then, but experience has taught me this phrase holds true. Positive peer pressure vs negative peer pressure.Therefore, surround yourself with gritty people and you will definitely grow grit.  

Psychologist researcher Angela Duckworth has done some amazing and extensive work on grit. In one of her interviews she was asked what category she thought grit fell into; nature or nurture, height or weight. This question was basically asking if she would consider grit being a trait a person is born with like height and cannot really do anything about (asides high heels) or is grit a trait that can be developed like weight. Duckworth’s simple answer was that grit to her, falls under weight. Never too early (or late) to grow grit. I recommend parents of children and teenagers familiarize themselves with the concept of grit and practices of growing grit because it is a key indicator for achieving any goal, adding value and attaining excellence.

Duckworth’s video included below is worth the watch as she explains this concept of grit in a practical and engaging way.

Any more ways you can think of to grow grit?…Please feel free to share in the comments, that we may learn together as a community. Let’s make it a priority to GROW GRIT


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