In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Lee Duckworth explores how this aspect of the growth mindset, developed by Dr. Carol Dweck, can impact student beliefs about failure. Duckworth suggests that "what we eventually accomplish may depend more on our passion and perseverance than on our innate talent."
Mrs. Duckworth has leveled the playing field, my friends.
Up to now, we're all under this assumption that our innate talent or our IQ sets the standard for success. Then, in walks Duckworth. Guess what she's doing - she is calling bullshit.
Is my sister better at math than me? Yes. It is because she is smarter than me? No. Could it be that when math got tough, I didn't have the grit to persevere and figure that shit out? A person can be very talented, very intelligent, but in the absence of grit she will not be successful.
The lessons my children have learned within their elementary school about the concepts of having a growth mindset and grit are as valuable as the lessons they have learned about arithmetic and history. This concept leads me to wonder and explore HOW as parents we can encourage these concepts, teach these life skills, and nurture our children's grit.
I think most of life's challenges can be eliminated with the right perspective. Of course we each have our own - and we each have to rise to the challenge of creating our own positive perspective in times of struggle. I find the right perspective in constant communication with God. There isn't a day that starts without our conversation. In so doing, I am able to stay the course. Maintain a positive mind-set and seek personal growth. I believe I am talented. I believe I am smart. But I also believe, I will not be successful with my talents or intelligence without grit.
How many talented, intelligent people do you know that are not particularly successful? Take a minute and think of them. Now consider this: is their perception of success the same as yours? In Shift Happens: How to Live and Inspired Life...Starting Right Now! by Robert Holden I've been exploring this concept of perspective. I've come to decide that perspective is literally EVERYTHING. What I perceive as success, how I feel happiness, how I feel worthy, how I feel I contribute to the world, where I see myself heading, the connection and relationships I develop - all entirely of my perspective.
People often ask me how I am. Though they say it in a way that leads me to believe they think I am not doing well, they seem to think I am "over-doing it". Their questions are laden with their perspective that I am too busy to enjoy life. "You're so busy... how do you do it all?" "You must be stressed with so much work." I am busy. I have a lot of work. I like it that way. I prefer busting ass all day and pushing myself to work hard, learn new things, and shine my light into the world in my own way every day. I prefer it to "down time". I don't consider the challenges of my days as negative. I think challenges are opportunities. Let's see how we can tackle this mountain. Let's figure out how we can eat this frog. Is having grit and working toward my goals easy? No. But does my perspective allow me to see it as a positive and forward moving experience so that I want to do it. Yes. I choose grit.
After the school assembly today my boys came home happy and feeling charged up. The Happy Critter said, "Today I am ready to take off my training wheels." He was influenced by the motivational concept of grit. We took his training wheels off the bike. We gave it a go. He chanted several times that he has grit. We worked at it for thirty minutes. I suggested we take a break, try again before dinner. He immediately broke into tears. He said, "I can't do it!" Sobbing hysterically.
I calmed him down. I said, "Wait, I thought you had grit." He said, "I did for a little bit, but it must be gone because I can't ride the bike." I said, "Listen, grit doesn't come and go. Grit tackles the bike riding one lesson at a time until it gets done. Grit is trying again and again, keeping at it." I asked him, "Will you keep trying?" He said, "Yes." I said, "See you do have grit."
Grit can be taught. But it must be talked about. My kid's first perception was that grit was a one trick pony. How can we share how gritty we are with our children? How can we include perspective and our own growth mindsets with our children?
Talk about it as it happens. When something needs fixed, bring them along on the journey with you. I never really learned how to be gritty when it came to math. But I sure as shit learned to be gritty. My parents each, in their own ways, modeled pieces of their grittiness with me - I developed it and learned it from their behavior.
In trying to live outside this little comfort zone of mine, I am sharing my grit. In working until the wee hours trying to understand new software platforms, rules of using YouTube, best practices of this or that within my professional space - my children see my grit. When my bag is overflowing with notes from my workout, my mornings spent creating Indoor cycle playlists, or my hands callused from weights they see my grit. When the faucet is clogged and it takes not one but three trips to ACE to get the right materials to fix it, our children see grit. When the hubs is up at 4 and home at 9, they see grit. When we share and show our passion for our work, for each other, for our community - we share and show our grit. We do not have it all figured out. We are not good at everything, but we will bust our ass until we are. That is how we Choose Grit in our house.
For all the books mentioned in this blog post and a few suggestions for encouraging grit in your children click here.