November and December can be a stressful time of year. If you have children, they may be on holiday from school or further education. You may be preparing for the festive season, and you might be expecting lots of visits from family and friends.

Do you feel that you have plenty of resilience? And grit?

It’s easy to like the allure of ‘shiny new ideas’ and feel that they will give better results than what we are currently doing.

It’s also easy to get stressed if goals are hard to achieve.

The ability to persevere and not be diverted by the latest fad indicate how successful we are likely to be in achieving our goals.

The actor, film-maker and musical Woody Allen stated:-

“80% of success is showing up.

My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book.”

Woody Allen (actor, film-maker, musician)

So what about grit? What is it? Who has it? How can we all get more of it?

Grit

Grit is “perseverance and passion for long-term goals”

Angela Duckworth, researcher and MacArthur Fellowship winner

The definition of grit contains two components:

  1. The ability to stick to long-term goals.
  2. The ability to keep going despite adversity.

Grit is the resilience to push over, through, around, and sometimes under obstacles. It involves sustaining effort despite mental and physical setbacks, including failures.

Angela Duckworth is a professor of psychology and pioneer in grit research. Her TED Talk (1) introduced us to the ideas of grit and resilience. She became interested in this area after working as a maths teacher, and noticing that IQ alone did not predict which students would succeed with long-term challenges and which would struggle.

In study after study, Angela Duckworth has found that “where talent counts once, effort counts twice.” (2) Angela Duckworth’s 2007 research (3) found that grit is both born in some people but can also be developed. For people to develop grit, she says, they need to cultivate a growth mindset (growth mindset was discussed in a previous post).

Duckworth uses this formula:

TALENT x EFFORT = SKILL

SKILL x EFFORT = ACHIEVEMENT

When you put effort into improving a natural talent (e.g. maths ability), you end up with a skill (e.g. being able to multiply and divide). And applying effort to this skill leads to achievement (e.g. being able to solve maths equations without writing them down).

That is why grit and sustained effort is so important, as most of us encounter setbacks while working towards our goals. You can find out your ‘grit score’ by completing Duckworth’s 10-question quiz (4).

Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Angela Duckworth

Of course, we can have plenty of grit in some areas of our life, but lack it in other areas. It is difficult to put time and effort into achieving multiple large goals – we usually need to prioritise one area at a time. As an example, some people found that having a senior job that requires a lot of travel interfered with another of their major goals – being present with their families as their children were growing up.

Alongside grit, which motivates us to keep working until we reach our goal, we need resilience – the ability to pick ourselves up and try again and again until we succeed. Luckily, we can develop it and do not need to be born with it

The American Psychological Association (APA, n.d.) define resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors.(5)

Why are Grit and Resilience Important to the Growth Mindset?

Does developing grit and resilience help us create a growth mindset, or does a growth mindset help with developing grit and resilience? It could be both! People who are born with a ‘gritty’ attitude could find that grit contributes to a growth mindset.

As an example, some young children persevere in the face of difficulties with e.g. learning to play a sport, and do not need any encouragement from parents. Others need more support and prompting to continue practising sports until they are competent.

This second group of children could have a fixed mindset, and feel that their level of sports ability is pre-set at birth, and so do not see the point of a lot of practice if they fail initially.

9 Ways to Grow Your Grit and Resilience

Duckworth found that grit is the best predictor of success.

It helps children excel at school, older students get higher grades, soldiers persevere with their military training, and adults succeed at work and make their marriages more likely to succeed (6).

The following tips can help us to grow grit and resilience:-

1. Pursue Your Interests

Of course, it’s easy to work at topics that interest us. In order to make perseverance easier with a task that we don’t like, it can help to find something about it that is interesting or satisfying.

It could even be a short term goal that gives a sense of purpose – e.g. if the long term goal is to become proficient at soccer, a short term goal could be to learn how to tackle an opponent and get the ball off them. We could even get help from a coach or more experienced player.

According to Angela Duckworth, we should try different things until we’ve found something we’re passionate about.

2. Practice

Gritty people are continually striving to improve, even if they are already good at the task. We can look to improve one area at a time, and it can be a small, specific area. Thus, in the example of learning soccer, improving tackling is a specific area where we can see improvements, and then move on to practice another specific skill. Gritty people compete with themselves.

It’s interesting to note that the language we use when praising someone affects grit and resilience. Praise for a personal quality (e.g., “You are really smart.”), teaches a fixed mindset as we are praising something that appears fixed and that the person cannot develop further. Praising them for their effort or trying new ideas fosters resilience because it is something that they can influence – it is something that they did and can do again.

3. See the big picture

See how what you do contributes to the benefit of others, and to the wider picture.

Perhaps if I can stop eating sugary food (and thus stop buying it, and remove it from my house), my husband will not be tempted to eat the sugary food, and we will both become healthier…

This tactic is especially good for motivating parents, who will often stick at a positive change because it helps their children as well.

4. Cultivate a positive mindset

When negative events happen in life, realise that we have the power to change how we respond. But we have to respond and make a deliberate decision to do something (even if that is to wait and do nothing for a while).

Weed out negative thinking and negative self-talk. (See some blogposts on this here and here).

Our brains can be reshaped and grow throughout life as it is ‘plastic’. (7)

Develop the belief that you can improve if you work hard at it.

5. Mix with gritty people

“You become like your friends” is the old saying! By mixing with people who have a positive mindset, grit, resilience and determination, you will develop more of these qualities. They will influence your thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

Their values and ways of behaving will become your values and behaviour. You will absorb their view of how to approach challenges in life.

6. Take the long term view

Part of grit and resilience is to take a long term view on failure or disappointment. How much will a setback matter in six months or a year?

It can be hard to think like this while we are in the middle of the situation (disappointment or failure), but if we can ‘zoom out’ our perspective to see the wider picture it can help. Perhaps think of other setbacks (even major ones) in the past. How did we get over those events? How much do they affect us now?

The answer may well be that we got over the setback by taking action. And the setback does not affect us very much now.

7. Accept change

Change is inevitable. At work, people leave the team and other people join. Children grow up and (usually) leave home. People move house. Who would have thought this year (2020) would be like this?

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “The only constant in life is change.

Accept it and move on to how you can make the most of the change.

8. Be flexible

Flexibilty allows resilience and grit to grow, because when their ideas hit a roadblock, flexible people simply think of other ways to succeed. They may need to learn something new, change their approach, or ask for advice. They think creatively and find a way around the roadblock.

9. Be mindful and reflect on your progress and goals

Meditation, quiet time, mindfulness.

However you wish to achieve it, reflection allows you to use your subconscious mind to create intuitive links and insights from what you have accomplished and the goals you want to achieve.

You can meditate, journal, exercise, sit quietly, practice mindfulness, or you may have some other way of accessing your intuitive subconscious mind.

According to new research (8), mindfulness breeds resilience. 327 undergraduates had their levels of mindfulness, satisfaction with life, emotional state, and level of resilience measured with four different surveys, and those students with the highest levels of mindfulness had greater resilience. High resilience was also linked to higher life satisfaction, and positive emotional state.

Summary

Gritty people stick with their long-term goals, and they keep showing up, picking themselves up, and continuing – even when it’s difficult.

If you lack those abilities, you can grow your grit in these five ways:

  1. Pursue your interests. Find something that fascinates you.
  2. Practice, practice, practice. Get a little bit better every day.
  3. Connect to a higher purpose. Ask yourself how you are helping other people.
  4. Cultivate hope. Remove your inaccurate, limiting beliefs.
  5. Surround yourself with gritty people. Create positive peer pressure.
  6. Take the long term view. How important will that setback seem in five years? In ten years?
  7. Accept change. Change will always be with us!
  8. Adopt flexible thinking. View problems as opportunities for growth.
  9. Be mindful and reflect on your progress and goals. Use the power of your subconscious mind.

80% of success is showing up, so take action!

If you’re feeling stuck, then hypnotherapy can help you to understand what’s holding you back and we can then work together to create the changes you want. Make progress in the things you want to achieve. To find out more, book your free discussion with me today.

References

  1. Duckworth, A.L. (April 2013). Grit: The power of passion and perseverance. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_grit_the_power_of_passion_and_perseverance
  2. Duckworth, A.L. (2016) Grit: the power of passion and perseverance. New York : Scribner.
  3. Duckworth, A.L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M.D., & Kelly, D.R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087-1101. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.92.6.1087
  4. Angela Duckworth – Grit Scale. (2020) https://angeladuckworth.com/grit-scale/
  5. American Psychological Association [APA] (n.d.). The road to resilience. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience
  6. Eskreis-Winkler, L., Shulman, E. P., Beal, S. A., & Duckworth, A. L. (2014). The grit effect: predicting retention in the military, the workplace, school and marriage. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 36. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00036
  7. Banks, D. (2016). What is brain plasticity and why is it so important? The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/what-is-brain-plasticity-and-why-is-it-so-important-55967
  8. Bajaj B., Pande N. (2016) Mediating role of resilience in the impact of mindfulness on life satisfaction and affect as indices of subjective well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 93 (63-67). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.09.005.
  9. Duckworth, A.L. (n.d.) Q&A. Retrieved January 8, 2020, from https://angeladuckworth.com/qa/
  10. Dweck, C. (13 January 2016). What having a “growth mindset” actually means. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means
  11. Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Ballantine Books.

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