20160404: the grit from which you’re made

In How We Learn To Believe In Ourselves, Anna Woodhouse writes, “Grit is more important than intelligence, or talent, or even wealth in determining success.”

What is grit? “Grit is about the ability to pursue long-term goals and to stick with things.”  It may be loosely correlated with self control. There may even be a genetic component to “developmental plasticity” (Is this the same thing as resilience? Do I have my terms right?

It seems to be more than just perseverance. So many questions: Is grit situational? Am I gritty overall? Or just gritty at certain things?

PERSONALITY PROCESSES AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals Angela L. Duckworth University of Pennsylvania

Grit is what hones the performing edge.

Sports psychologists are always curious about the constructs of individual success and the question of “how did you achieve that (when those better trained or more genetically endowed did not)?” In the sports realm gain we spout the same  conclusions. Craziness (which must surely mean passion), willingness to take on challenges, planning/ training, clearly defined objectives. But perhaps with these answers we are missing the overall concept of grit. Physically difficult workouts test our grit. But benign exercises like sitting in a chair doing visualisation build our grit, too.

You might know by now that I enjoy long distance running.

Once in a while I participate in 100k, 100 mile races. I’ve read plenty of egotistical race reports that say things like, “I am super talented and was in the best shape of my life! I was in the lead with xx miles left to go, then I ran into problems and did not finish. <Insert excuses which may or may not be valid>. Poor me!”

I’m not always empathetic. Again:

“Grit is more important than intelligence, or talent, or even wealth in determining success.”

Finally, I think grit is the all-encompassing of these ill-defined and not easily measured ideas of motivation, confidence, endurance, perseverance, resilience, tenacity, fortitude… I think grit is an innate personality trait, like leadership, that is refined with experience (ahem, maturity). I think grit rewards itself in a positive reinforcement cycle. It’s a strength that is not easily injured or lost, because it’s not a physical thing. It’s a secret skill concealed in your head.

Then again, I’m not an expert on this.

Are you gritty? Test yourself at University of Pennsylvania’s online grit scale test if you are so inclined.


3 thoughts on “20160404: the grit from which you’re made

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    1. Wow Annette! Thanks for the links. I was also introduced to sports psychology through school and running. I love examining strategy and processes; my personal motto for a while there was “focus on the process and the results will come”. Just a brief look at your writing tells me we’re on the same page! (my favorite books are Your Performing Edge and Programmed to Run) I would love to hear your thoughts on post-race assessments too 🙂

      1. Thank you so much! I will certainly put those books on my reading list for the summer. Post-race assessments are extremely important. I wish they had been done in a structured, consistent manner when I was competing in college. Now that I race and analyze on my own, I have found a handful of people (old coaches, runners I look up to, my physical therapist) that I can sit down and analyze aspects of my race. Having mentors in your sport is just as important as having a mentor in your professional life. Lucky for me, those categories share some space. Assessments allow you to be honest with yourself about your performance. I do it with my clients who are athletes and what I have learned is that people respond best to it when there is an equal balance between assessing the things that the athlete succeeded in as well as the things they should improve on. It’s important to allow yourself space to mentally process your emotions from the race before you sit down and get nitty-gritty about each mile…especially in a mentally exhausting event such as the marathon. I have a post on running assessments coming up on my calendar in July. Keep an eye out! 🙂

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