“Grit = the Power of Passion + Perseverance”
As I write this I observe Australian farmers come to terms with cattle drowning floods, and crop destroying droughts. And yet they continue to rebound, processing the great losses, and envisioning a way through the darkness into the future. They are a living demonstration of GRIT, demonstrating resilience, tenacity through the suffering, perseverance & passion for their vision. I call it ‘stick-ability’!
As Angela Duckworth (AD) writes in her book – Grit – Why passion and resilience are the secrets to success – Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. It is having stamina, sticking with your future day in and day out, for years. Working hard to make that future a reality. Living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
“Talent you have naturally. Skill only develops by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft” Will Smith
In this fast twitch, immediate gratification era – Enthusiasm is common, Endurance is becoming increasingly rare i.e. staying the course – being in it for the long haul. My reflection on this is that perhaps the pace of life means that we aren’t taking sufficient time, or giving ourselves permission to reflect on our journey and learn from our setbacks – feeling the pressure to succeed first time, and quickly. Along with the externalisation of our validation (in other words – relying on the constant feedback from the ‘likes’ of social media) perhaps we have outsourced validation to such a degree that we can’t even tell if we’re on track anymore – or even making progress. It looks like everyone else is getting ‘there’ faster than we are, and with fewer, if any mistakes along the way. The perfect Truman Show life!
Grit requires a growth mindset. Carol Dweck in her book Mindset, states that fixed mindset attitudes are demonstrated in people who avoid challenges; get defensive or giving up easily; see effort as fruitless; ignore useful negative feedback; and feel threatened by the success of others. Growth mindset intelligence can be developed, and is demonstrated as a tendency to embrace challenges; persist in the face of setbacks; see effort as the path to mastery; learn from criticism; and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others – resulting in higher levels of achievement.
“If we get knocked down, and stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.” Angela Duckworth
Angela describes goals as low-level and higher-level. The daily to-do lists of low-level goals are our check points towards our ultimate concern (as psychologists put it), our higher-level goals – our unique and personal passions.
So how do we grow grit? Angela explains that it is developed as we figure out our life philosophy, learn to dust ourselves off after rejection and disappointment, and learn to tell the difference between low-level goals that should be abandoned (or adapted) quickly and higher-level goals that demand more tenacity.
To be gritty is to resist complacency…it requires us to hang in there and see it through because we believe this is what we are here to do – not simply for the validation from others. Internal motivation not external motivation will contribute to grit. (Hey we all enjoy recognition of course – I’m not saying that’s not ok – it’s about not depending entirely on the opinions of others to keep us motivated – doing things because we want to – not because we have to live up to the expectations of others.)
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (MC) talks about the highly focussed mental state of FLOW…that people are happiest when that are in a state of flow – completely absorbed with the activity at hand – in the zone. He also found that intrinsically motivated people were more likely to be goal-oriented and enjoy challenges that would lead to an increase in overall happiness.
“Repression is not the way to virtue. When people restrain themselves out of fear, their lives are by necessity diminished. Only through freely chosen discipline can life be enjoyed and still kept within the bounds of reason.” MC
It is said that gritty people do more deliberate practice (preparation) and experience more flow (performance). So we need to consciously develop a practice – make it habitual, then let go of judgement and be in the moment to experience this flow and high level performance.
We need to keep putting one foot in front of the other!
Show Up! & Keep showing up in our lives!
When we take people on our Free Spirit Adventure treks there is definitely a positive growth in the Grit department! The fact that they need to train, repeatedly over some time, possibly recover from the stresses and strains of that training, deal with setbacks in life along the way, juggling life’s priorities, and when they finally get on the trek they need to be able to re-set on a daily basis according to what nature and the track throws at them is all part of the grit cycle! Grit is discovered, developed, and reinforced through the trekking experience – I have seen so many people find a grit within that they never knew they had – or believed they didn’t possess until the moment, at the finish line, when we all celebrate the true achievement of their perseverance and passion.
Likewise on our True North Leadership Quests, when participants have the opportunity to reflect on their life and career journey, explore their wins and their setbacks, take the learnings from those, and try new thoughts and behaviours with a growth mindset, grit is enhanced – both in the personal lives, and in the workplace. We help people connect with their inner True North – their higher-level goals – and return to their regular world with clarity and perspective.
Here’s to a gritty life! In the best possible way!
Grit ~ Angela Duckworth
Mindset ~ Carol Dweck
As a part of my own spiritual and personal practice, I chose 52 words to reflect on over the course of a year.