How much do I want to read more? 8/10
This resonates so much with my inner conviction, that we can only feel good about ourselves if we do and complete hard things.
We are so much misled into thinking the opposite, that we need to seek for a comfortable life, with toys and vacations.
The author defines “authentic grit” as “the passionate pursuit of hard goals that awes and inspires others to become better people, flourish emotionally, take positive risks, and live their best lives.”
“challenging and specific” goals are required if someone wants to attain the highest levels of performance.
people aren’t happy doing nothing.
at night we all scan our day for its highlights, especially noting what we are most proud of. As you might expect, the things that give us authentic self-esteem are never the activities or behaviors that are easy and inside our comfort zone. It’s the difficult, challenging, and sometimes painful moments that leave us flush with a sense of pride and that make us more confident and hopeful about our capabilities and future.
When you acquire knowledge and wisdom, recall that “You can’t keep what you don’t give away”. If you can go through your situation, you could possibly help even one person doing the same.
“I think it was the swimming. The only questions I was really asked to elaborate on were about how many years I’d spent practicing, whether it was once or twice a day, the fact that I’d competed through college, and that I was elected captain of my college team despite transferring in my junior year.”
“I think they just wanted to know if I had a work ethic, leadership qualities, and the ability to get along with people,”
The thinking is that if these types of job applicants have already learned how to work hard, overcome disappointment, and persist in the absence of constant praise, then they’ll be the kinds of employees who can be trained to do almost anything.
“grit,” which she defined as “passion and perseverance in pursuit of long-term goals.”
“authentic grit.” I define this as “the passionate pursuit of hard goals that awes and inspires others to become better people, flourish emotionally, take positive risks, and live their best lives.”
I believe we can begin to imagine and create a world that makes us proud and that uplifts us to be bolder, more tenacious, and more inspirational. When we learn how to set the right goals and see them through to the finish line, become comfortable with discomfort, and use setbacks as springboards, we can live with passion, purpose, and perseverance. When that happens, having the right kind of grit won’t be a fantasy. It will be the reality that more of us live and share with others so that we can all become better versions of ourselves.
1. Can You Spell G-R-I-T?
Duckworth and her presentations about grit are staples at education, leadership, and psychology conferences, and one of her speeches, “The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” is one of the most popular TED talks ever posted online. Her book, Grit, published in 2016, rocketed to the top of the bestseller
Her study of legions of successful men and women across multiple domains, including investment banking, swimming, football, and chess, has found that there are common denominators in all of these people that are worth unpacking so that we can learn how to emulate their approach to their goals.
She found that the people who had distinguished themselves in overcoming multiple challenges over many years to sustain the pursuit of something that was important to them had several critical qualities in common, namely:
They were lit up from within by a cause or an activity that electrified and energized them, sometimes from a young age. They weren’t guided by what others wanted; instead, they were single-mindedly focused on something that crowded out other interests, gave their lives meaning, and filled them with a sense of purpose.
They weren’t just resilient in the short run. They had a bounce-back quality that existed throughout years of emotional droughts, physical and financial setbacks, and discouragements that would cause many people to give up.
They attached a goal to their passion that might have seemed unrealistic to some, but that became their immovable North Star. In some cases, this led to world-renown or Olympic fame, but for others, the results were quieter, from regaining the ability to walk after a crippling injury, to maintaining the hope of being exonerated after wrongful incarceration, to remaining clean and sober in the hardest of circumstances.
How does the research help you and me?
To do what I do, and make a living at it, I have had to learn how to make an immediate difference in people’s lives with whatever tools, motivation, and knowledge they need to get where they want to go. And when people state their most desired outcome for our work together, the development of more resilience and grit is often at the top of their list.
I have to know what is missing in my clients’ lives and why. I need to understand what happened in their family of origin that impacted their outlook, who currently supports their goals, what occurs around them now in their work and personal environments, and much more. If I don’t know those variables, I can’t diagnose the situation correctly and bring the right research and tools to our work.
I pore through the research on grit, as well as the findings on such areas as passion, risk-taking, willpower, kindness, humility, savoring, goal-setting, and positive relationships, so that I can use the information effectively and efficiently with men and women, young and old, wherever they are in the change process.
I came up with my own definition of “authentic grit” — “the passionate pursuit of hard goals that awes and inspires others to become better people, flourish emotionally, take positive risks, and live their best lives.”
Why does grit matter so much in the twenty-first century?
psychologists say that by and large this generation is entitled and easily wounded by feedback or criticism, and that instead of having higher self-esteem and a sense of responsibility, they are fragile and narcissistic.
Many value fame and money over meaning and purpose, seek shortcuts over hard work, and fold in the face of setbacks. Awash in creature comforts and quick fixes, they aren’t likely to understand how to read maps or write properly without spell-check. And adults aren’t viewed as guides but as equals.
Some psychologists note that the “dumbing down” of playgrounds into plastic contraptions surrounded by pillows of wood chips, so that children can avoid injuries and skinned knees, has created a generation of anxious adults who grew up afraid to climb trees or to take risks.4 Some have even traced a drop in entrepreneurial activity in recent years to this phenomenon, noting that the age group that used to create new businesses and spark innovation has played it safer than previous generations.
Creating your best life requires grit
I’ve come across a great deal of evidence that points toward the imperative of doing difficult things in order to live a satisfying, high-quality life filled with optimal achievement.
For starters, I learned from Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, whose research has led to Goal Setting Theory, which holds that “challenging and specific” goals are required if someone wants to attain the highest levels of performance. (Easy goals, or “low goals,” don’t just result in mediocrity, they say, but also leave people feeling mediocre.)
I discovered that people aren’t happy doing nothing.
Newer research has found that at night we all scan our day for its highlights, especially noting what we are most proud of. As you might expect, the things that give us authentic self-esteem are never the activities or behaviors that are easy and inside our comfort zone. It’s the difficult, challenging, and sometimes painful moments that leave us flush with a sense of pride and that make us more confident and hopeful about our capabilities and future.
And which two qualities have been found to most reliably predict success with our goals? Grit and curiosity.
What will you regret?
it’s always because there is something they want to do that is so far outside their comfort zone they have to be thoughtful and prepared about the plunge they’re poised to take. And although they understand how hard the path will be, they also know that they won’t ever be truly happy unless they give that goal a shot.
the people who are most satisfied with our coaching outcomes, and with themselves, are the ones who picked difficult goals and grew their grit to make a run for the brass ring. They leave our coaching as different people. I often tell friends that I feel like I work on the labor and delivery floor of a hospital because everyone is happy after they see the fruits of their labor. They are not just more confident after they cultivate grit and use it in a purposeful way—they are also more fulfilled.
“When you are looking back on your life at the moment of death, what will you regret if you don’t make any changes starting now?”
What if you don’t have grit? Can you develop it?
Dweck has found that when children grow up with praise for their innate intelligence—when things like solving a puzzle, drawing a picture, winning a race, or getting a good report card are met with responses like “You’re so smart!” “You are awesome!” and “You deserve it!”—these children develop a “fixed mind-set,” believing that their strengths and talents are fixed at birth. This leads them to avoid situations in which they might fail because they need to maintain the image and belief that they are special.
On the other hand, children who grow up with praise for their effort, irrespective of outcome, develop a “growth mind-set.” This means they learn to believe that even if they don’t know something yet, with enough effort and persistence they can, over time, learn what doesn’t come easily to them at first.
cadets with lower grit scores have been found to benefit when they room with cadets who have higher grit scores, possibly because seeing someone work through frustration, find clever ways to delay gratification, or be resilient when faced with setbacks can rub off in positive ways.
Newer research: mirror neurons and virtual reality
research on mirror neurons is finding that it’s easier to learn something new when we watch others do it.
We also know from endurance tests that the body gives up only after the brain tells it to do so, opening the door to creative solutions that can help people “change the channel” in their brains when tempted to throw in the towel
We also know that strategically located prompts, or cues—such as pictures or inspirational words—can make people either more disciplined or more lax in their efforts.
Agreeing to an “if-then” contract with yourself also triples your chances of accomplishing tough goals.
What else contributes to building the grit muscle?
Since grit is contagious, can grow throughout a person’s lifetime, and can be developed in the process of pursuing a big dream, it makes sense that its components can be isolated and then nurtured into flourishing abilities.
Duckworth’s definition of grit gives us clues about what we need to cultivate, including passion, resilience, and determined focus.
In my studies of gritty people, I’ve noticed that many of them have other critical qualities such as patience and curiosity, not to mention humility, an endearing quality that can attract the enthusiastic support of those who help them with their dreams over many years.
Why do I care so much? My own story of getting grit
One of the reasons I feel so compelled to work in the field of motivation, goals, happiness, and grit is because I had the formula for finding success all wrong in the earlier part of my life, and suffered greatly as a result.
I decided I wanted to live more than I wanted to self-destruct, that I’d do whatever it took to get better, and that I wasn’t going to stop until I found the right formula.
Grit starts with passion, and I embraced a passion for living, for finding happiness outside of trying to have a perfect body, and for giving back to others instead of trying to figure out how I could come out the sole winner.
“You can’t keep what you don’t give away” was the phrase I heard at my twelve-step group for compulsive eaters.
If I had even one day of maintaining my abstinence from compulsive eating, I had something of value that could help someone else, which gave me purpose and humility.
because I know that life is sweeter and richer because I chose a difficult road and didn’t quit until I reached a goal that mattered so much to me, I have a commitment to work with people on selecting and pursuing the goals that will light up their lives, and to help them cultivate grit, too. I believe that if I’ve been able to develop grit, others can, too, and that if I don’t “give it away” and help others, I won’t be able to “keep” what I’ve found and fully enjoy it.
Breast in Show
I have been coaching for long enough to know that everyone has an unerring sense of what they lack or desire, and that my role is simply to challenge them in a variety of ways to unearth those facts and help them bring their aspirations to life.
Besides, it would be ridiculous to implant dreams or hopes in others because it’s impossible to be lit up by something that isn’t intrinsically motivating. In fact, my clients’ goals are so unique and personally galvanizing to them that I know I’d never be able to cook up anything more rewarding or satisfying than what I’ve been privileged to hear from them directly for so many years.
Over the years, I’ve had clients tell me they wanted to ride bareback in Mongolia along the Great Wall of China, become Olympic competitors, rise to be among the top one hundred people in their profession, ditch a lucrative career in computing to create a home-cooked-meals delivery service, go from couch potato to Ironman finisher, transform a life of suburban motherhood into a life of urban entrepreneurialism, leave a stable accounting job to nurse the ailing in overseas tent villages, and much more.
The goals haven’t just been about checking off bucket-list items; they’ve been about staking a claim on becoming someone bolder and more authentic, whether in the boardroom, on the world’s biggest athletic stage, in their community, or in their private lives.
The number-one regret of those in hospice care is that they lived someone else’s life, and not the one they felt they should have lived.
We know from research that the main reason people don’t pursue their most valued goals is fear—fear of everything from success, to change, to failure. And from where I sit and coach, the happiest people are those who take risks to be uncomfortable in the face of fear and find the grit to hang in there until they’ve given their goals every possible effort.
Grit is necessary across the lifespan
I believe we need grit no matter where we live, who we are, or what we want to do. We need to be resilient in overcoming addictive behaviors so that we can have happy lives. If we have children or loved ones with special needs, we need to be up to the challenge of the long-term, constant care and vigilance they require. We cannot shrink in the face of economic uncertainties, growing terrorism, and pervasive unhappiness. We must persevere if we are going to thrive, reinvent ourselves after midlife, and model courage for generations to come.
Given what I hear, both from clients and the feedback I get after my speeches, the problem isn’t that people don’t know that grit is important or don’t want to be more emotionally resilient. The problem is that they just don’t know how to do it and where to start. They don’t know how to fight the tide of permissive parenting or the societal influences that lead to “good enough” standards.
They don’t know how to summon up enough willpower in a quick-fix, remote-controlled world, where everything is a click away and our attention span is now one second less than that of the average goldfish.
“Don’t ever, ever ring the bell”
in SEAL training there is a bell, a brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at five o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing-cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training. Just ring the bell. If you want to change the world, don’t ever, ever ring the bell.