People want to be good at what they do. Agree or disagree? If you agree, what does it take to get there? Angela Duckworth says, “Grit” is a big part of the answer.
I heard an inspiring presentation by Angela at the 2017 Global Leadership Summit. She is a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” a 2016 New York Times bestseller.
First, what is Grit? Grit is sustained passion and perseverance – especially for long-term goals. It is the hallmark of high achievers in every human domain.
Second, how do you build Grit?Angela says with age and experience, character qualities like grit get stronger. Our capacity to build grit can grow. Make no mistake. Grit is not talent, not intelligence, not beauty, and not luck.
Third, effort counts twice.Talent is real, but counts for nothing if you don’t apply yourself. Angela provided two equations: Talent x Effort = Skill. Skill x Effort = Achievement. If you read those two equations closely, you’ll notice that talent counts, but effort counts twice!
Fourth, how do you become a world-class expert?Research indicates you need to engage in “deliberate practice.” What distinguishes experts from the rest of us is: A) They have a goal; B) They focus their attention on doing their work a little better than before; C) They get feedback from a mentor; D) They reflect and refine; E) They do A-D over and over. Why don’t more people do more deliberate practice? It really isn’t fun. It’s sustained passion and perseverance.
Fifth, how do you build Grit? A) Start with developing your interests, the seeds of passion. B) Engage in deliberate practice with 100% focus. Take criticism. Refine. Repeat. Feeling frustrated isn’t only normal, it’s essential to growth. C) Cultivate purpose by choosing a path that will benefit other people. Be a part of something larger than yourself. Purpose and grit have a direct relationship. The higher your commitment to other people, the more meaning you see in your work. D) Develop a growth mindset. A fixed mindset believes intelligence is static, and has a tendency to avoid challenges. A growth mindset believes intelligence can be developed, and has a tendency to embrace challenges. A growth mindset in both children and adults predicts grit.
Angela gave two examples: Those who performed best at the Spelling Bee engaged in the most deliberate practice. Those who survived summer training at West Point had higher grit scores. Therefore, individuals who are passionate and persevere in what they do, generally are also deeply satisfied with their lives. Grit and happiness go hand in hand.
Read Hebrews 12:1-3.
Like the “great cloud of witnesses” mentioned above, Angela stressed the value of the people surrounding us. She told the story of an Olympic swimmer, who at age 11, wanted to quit. “My parents loved me so much that they didn’t want me to quit on a bad day.”
Walk wisely. Grit is something you can build in yourself and in others. It unlocks ambition so we can be as excellent as we are able to be. Grit and “running your race well” go hand in hand.
Love is a verb,
©2018 by Mike Olejarz