In the last year or so, I’ve heard a lot about the term GRIT, which is part of the title of a book by psychologist Angela Duckworth.
I was reminded of the term in listening to a not-so-recent podcast, Dare to Lead, by Brené Brown, in which she interviewed Dr. Duckworth. I haven’t read the book yet, just an interview with Dr. Duckworth in the Costco magazine, so I was interested in hearing more about it. I had associated the idea of grit with being strong, not giving up, and keeping your eye on the prize. And those things are part of it, but, as Dr. Brown said in her introduction,
some people say, “Well, grit is sticking with it whether it’s for you or not.” And that’s not what grit is, and that’s really important, I think, for parents and for educators and for us, personally, where we’re like, “Wow, I tried this.” I think we shared examples about our kids trying to finish seasons of sports they start. You know, “I tried this, I hated it. I don’t want to do it again. Does that mean I don’t have grit?” No, did you learn? Did you get closer to what you might love by trying things that you don’t?
The full title of the book is Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. You can read a sample of it at this link or watch her TED Talk here.
The elements of perseverance and passion are essential to the definition of grit and to success. But this doesn’t mean that you have to stay toiling at a hobby, a job or career, maybe even a relationship, if you don’t like it and if it’s not serving you.
In the podcast, both Drs. Duckworth and Brown talked about their children pursuing a hobby or sport that they, ultimately, wound up dropping. But they didn’t drop it after a week, after a month – they stuck it out till the end of their time commitment and then decided not to continue.
Through perseverance, they were able to discover whether or not
that activity was their passion.
(This makes me think of an old adage I heard that said, “Persevere, ye perfect men, ever keep these precepts ten,” which is an exercise about a sentence that only uses one vowel)
One of my students, who I won’t name, is a great example of that. In her freshman year of high school, she was a cheerleader. And oh, did she hate that! She came in every week and told me how much she hated cheerleading, and I said, “Why don’t you quit?” and she said, “No, I made a commitment and I’m going to see it out.” And after that semester, she never cheerleaded (cheerled?) again. But she persevered.
She perseveres at other things – singing, acting, reading, studying Chinese – and those are her passions. But the fact that she sees through her commitments, even though she might’ve disliked the activity – she is a testament to grit and I admire her for that. And I give her mom total props for raising her right. (Wish mine had – mine never met an activity she couldn’t abandon if it caused her any discomfort, whether that was emotional or physical.)
I am trying to attain grit at this relatively advanced point in my life. I’ve just committed to a 30-day yoga challenge on YouTube. I’ve tried yoga before but always dropped it because it hurt, or I didn’t have time, or …. yeah, I’m not that gritty.
Except in my knees. The level of arthritis in my knees and the resulting crepitus is quite astounding – I sound like I have grit, if nothing else.
Perhaps my 2022 word – focus – is akin to grit, but I suspect there’s more to it.
- I am committing to 30 days of yoga, and whether I continue or not after that will be based on whether or not I find it rewarding, if I can find a passion it. Also if my knees hold out.
- I am committing to an eventual goal of 96 oz. of water per day – I’ve started with 48 and have hit that goal and am upping it gradually by 8 oz. I may decide that’s too much.
- I am committing to reading 25 books this year. I may read more but I won’t read less (and I’ll try to get Dr. Duckworth’s book on that list, as soon as I finish the ones stacked on my nightstand).
- And I really should commit to my own vocal practice, even if it’s just warming up my own voice before teaching. Right now I’m preparing for a WNO audition this Saturday, but I need to get back into a steady practice.
Do you have grit? What are some examples of things you have persevered at and decided that you were or were not passionate about? If you weren’t passionate, how do you feel about abandoning that pursuit? Tell me about it in the comments!