Several years ago, I saw Angela Duckworth’s TED talk on “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” followed shortly thereafter by the reading of her book with the same name. Enamored by the idea that anyone can reverse engineer the habits of high achievers, I’ve been continually working to practice grit in my everyday life.
Thus, I was excited to see a course offered by the psychology professor on Udemy, which explores what grit is and how the average person can foster the characteristic in themselves.
Grit is defined as the combination of passion and perseverance for long-term goal, and has been found to be a common denominator of high-achieves in both athletic and intellectual domains. Psychology research over the last 50 years is solidifying evidence that achieving excellence in what you do requires sustained commitment or passion, along with a sustained-effort or perseverance.
The people whom we most admire for their success and achievements are not necessarily naturally gifted. Rather, these paragons of grit have develop habits, beliefs, attitudes, and values that have supported continual growth and improvement in their discipline.
In here research, Angela Duckworth has identified four characteristics of gritty individual–attitudes that we can all work to adopt and emulate.
The Four Characteristics of Gritty Individuals
Gritty individuals are endlessly curious and unafraid to follow that curiosity wherever it may lead. This curiosity often translates into a persistent interest, which is revisited again and again. Finally, passion is borne from the seed of interest. With repeated exposure to something we’re curious about, we begin to develop and affinity or obsession around a particular topic.
Experts across all fields know that deliberate practice is the best, and perhaps only way, to get better at what they do. Once you discover something that really catches your interest, you may choose to explore the topic in more depth, thus requiring your to work to get better at it. Practice won’t always be fun, enjoyable, or easy. There is a discipline to working on things that you can’t yet do in a particular domain, and accepting feedback so that you can incrementally improve day after day.
Grit unfolds over time and the third phase of development is purpose. This is where someone recognizes their initial seed of interest has evolved in to a calling that is related to their deeply-held personal values. Sometimes called a period of identity integration, this is the stage where one identifies how they can apply their skills to impact others and make the world a better place.
The fourth element, which can be applied throughout each phase of the journey, is maintaining a sense of optimism when everyone else has given up. Hope reminds us that no matter how old we are or which stage of development we’re in, there is always something we can do to change our situation.
Where Do You Practice Grit?
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” — Marcus Aurelius
Where have you practiced grit in your own life? Where are the areas where you could get more gritty? Where you could foster the above characteristics in your life to promote personal excellence? How could you help others develop a stronger sense of passion and perseverance in their lives?