Linda: I confess to having great admiration and sometimes envy towards people who have experienced great success in their chosen field, no matter what it is. I sometimes wonder if I could ever achieve that kind of greatness and wonder about what differentiates them from those who are accomplished, but to a more moderate degree.
Malcolm Gladwell refers to those who are exceptional as “outliers” in his best-selling book of the same name. In it, he refers to what he calls the “ten thousand hours” which he claims is the minimum amount of time one has to put into a chosen field in order to achieve an outstanding level of competence. The ten thousand hours does not, of course, guarantee a high level of success but it is an essential factor. Some of the other factors are talent, ambition, and yes, luck.
In her book, Grit, The Power and Passion of Perseverance, Angela Duckworth focuses on another factor in the equation that she refers to as grit. She describes grit as the embodiment of several characteristics, which include commitment, intention, stick-to-it-ive-ness, resilience, and persistence. Grit (the book) offers a strong case for substantiating the premise that when it comes to successful outcomes, grit trumps talent every time. Duckworth is a scientist and her claim is convincing not because she believes it (although she does) but because of numerous studies that she has cited, many of which she has engaged in herself. Unlike talent, which is fixed and remains fairly constant through life, grit can be developed and strengthened through intentional practices many of which she describes in the book.
The examples that she uses are taken from a wide range of situations, fields and experiences including athletics, performing artists, outstanding entrepreneurs, spelling bee winners, and West Point cadets. Since my passionate area of interest and fascination is in the area of exemplary, loving relationships, I found her theory applicable and relevant. From the years of work that Charlie and I have done personally and assisting others to grow stronger, we feel validated by Duckworth’s research for our own conclusions about the ways that we can all grow grit. Here are some of Angela’s suggestions:
- Passion: Know what lights you up, where you feel enthusiastic, alive and happy. Know your deepest values and what your keen areas of interest are. Strengthen the desire to more deeply understand your chosen field. Being proactive to learn more will be fuel in your tank for the long haul.
- Commitment: Having the fortitude to hang in there even when it is challenging or difficult.
- Concentration and Attention: Bring focused attention to your chosen area of interest and avoid distractions.
- Vision: Keep your eye on the goal and take actions that are aligned with it.
- Responsibility: Cultivate the attitude that “If it’s to be, it’s up to, me.” Hold yourself as being at cause rather than at effect of the process.
- Optimism: Cultivate a hopeful, optimistic orientation. This serves to drown out critical voices of doom in the mind, discouraging words from others, and thoughts that can diminish your enthusiasm.
- Time: Allowing sufficient time to devote to your specific area to use it for deliberate practice.
- Patience: The journey towards any valuable goal takes more patience than we think it should and the practice of mindfulness is a great strengthener of patience.
- Effort: The willingness to exert yourself
- Self-discipline: The philosopher Ken Keyes said.“The secret of life is sticking with it.” Just don’t quit.
- Courage: Be willing to face and endure discomfort and pain in the process of fulfilling your vision.
- Habits: Create new habits through diligent practice.
- Support: The development of grit requires support. Enlist and engage with role models, mentors, teachers, coaches, and those who are further along on a similar path.
- Creativity: Be willing to exercise your imagination and take the road less traveled
- Perseverance: Sticking with the process allows us to constantly improve even when there is repeated frustration.
- Consistency: Some people have a flare up of infatuation with an area of interest and are obsessed with it for a short time, but then drop it. Those with grit maintain their passionate area of interest spanning over many years. Their enthusiasm endure
- Openness: Invite feedback, especially negative feedback from trusted friends and colleagues.
- Purpose and Meaning: Choose goals that enhance the lives and well-being of others a well as your own.
If you have a passionate interest in creating the relationship of your dreams, these are some ways you can grow some more grit. The qualities mentioned above will position you well so that you are likely to manifest your vision. Since my chosen field is that of relationships, I’ve have been applying these principles for years. Although I had already been on the right track, since reading Duckworth’s book my commitment to develop more grit has already generated additional beneficial results. I intend to continue on this path. After all, the sky’s the limit!