As this year comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the rollercoaster ride we were on. An incredibly difficult year that gave us so much to be grateful for! Being a working mother, I went through ups and downs of managing my personal life with professional, but I am grateful that I did it with utmost dedication. And none of this would have been possible without the support of my husband. This year has urged us to learn an essential life skill called grit!
It’s 11:30 PM on Christmas Eve and I have just put Anaisha to sleep after a really hectic day at work or home! You see my little princess has broken my most valuable tool to operate, my phone! While watching Cocomelon and dancing to the tune of Merry Christmas she tumbled the phone on the ground breaking the screen into pieces. As I sigh and long for my memories stored in the phone, I asked myself to see the Silver Lining!
I recently read the book Grit, written by Angela Duckworth and published by Simon & Schuster. The learnings from the book totally blew me away and gave a healthy way to vent out my frustration. This book is so brilliant since it really covers some powerful concepts about what it is that actually separates people that end up being successful from the people who have all the talents in the world but didn’t do anything with it.
What is Grit?
Well, it’s the ability to find the thing that will sustain your interest even when it gets hard and boring. To paraphrase Duckworth it’s about falling In Love and staying in Lover over the long run and that’s really an intriguing concept! I guess all the new parents can easily relate to this since after the first few weeks of conceiving the baby we realize life can never the be same again. With endless sleepless nights and feeding sessions if parents hold on to their sanity then that’s the sign of Grit. Essentially it has two parts – Passion + Perseverance, so once the passion fades we persevere to accomplish the goal!
This book has countless powerful takeaways that I think would be very impactful for people who open themselves up to change. You know how we wonder, how do people become successful and why are they successful? Is it winning the match or scoring maximum runs? OR the most recent news that really inspires me with Leena, former CHRO of Unilever now becoming the CEO of Channel. Indeed, CEOs from India are a hot topic especially if you are an Indian. However, this is a tad bit more inspiring for me since even I am working as an HR and witnessing this much-needed reverence from the business! The important question is it Talent or is it Effort? In our society, our society forces us to believe that it would be talent. We have the tendency to marvel at the natural talent and overlook the importance of effort.
There are surveys that exhibit that we commend people who put in the effort but we don’t actually believe it can compete with natural talent. We often discount our own abilities while going up against people who might have longer tenure than us or appear more naturally gifted. However, author Angela Duckworth has found the following to be true in her research where talent counts once, efforts counts twice. The author shares a simple formula that can throw light on what is a skill and how can build it to accomplish our goals.
Talent * Efforts = Skill
Skill * Effort = Achievement
Basically, when we apply effort to any base-level talent, we get Skill. Consequently, when we apply effort to skill, we get the achievement! The sign shows that grit which is the sustained application of effort towards the long-term goal is the biggest predictor of lifelong achievement. For some, it’s an inconvenient truth and for someone like me is a panacea to perform better at work and in life!
Certain people like to perceive natural talent as the ultimate thing and then use it as an excuse to why they would never achieve what those people can and don’t even bother trying in the first place. For others, it can be liberating knowing they aren’t doomed to mediocrity because of lack of talent. If they play the effort, they can achieve success. Of course, there are limitations, not all of us can throw javelin like Neeraj Chopra or make it to the NBA’s. We aren’t all 6’9 but we can become one of the best players in our local teams by remembering that talent counts once while the efforts count twice.
We can be hopeful that one day we can achieve more than great things despite not winning the talent lottery. However, being gritty is harder than you think, resisting the endless temptations to quit or experiencing failure is extremely difficult to deal with.
If you are a firm believer in Growth Mindset like me, then we all have the ability to grow our grit by following 4 key takeaways from this Book
Key Takeaway 1: Develop a Fascination with what you are trying to do!
Charles Darwin admitted to not having the great quickness of apprehensions to discover the mysteries of natural science without possessing supernatural intelligence. Darwin developed an obsessive fascination and was said to keep the question alive in the back of his mind. Questions related to what he was observing which drove him to see the connection between all living things, his deep interest in natural science as well as constant questioning led him to the breakthrough that we now know as the Theory of Evolution! So what questions are the most intriguing to you? Find the question that fascinates you and trust me you will find the capacity to stay gritty fuel you to achieve greatness.
Key Takeaway 2: Aim to improve yourself Every Single Day
The author says to compete with who you were yesterday! I would like to explain it with an example which is often quoted by husband when he works on weekends or on Diwali. Sachin Tendulkar, often regarded as God of Indian Cricket once said at every practice, I would try to beat myself. He holds the record of maximum centuries and the most accomplished batsman of the century all across the world. Essentially, the refrain of all paragons of grit is that whatever it takes I want to improve. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how excellent they already are. So how can you carve out time each day to push your abilities and seek constant and never-ending improvement?
Key Takeaway 3: Greater Purpose
The third way to grow our grit is to remind ourselves of the greater purpose. What is actually a bigger contributor of grit obtaining a feeling of pleasure or feeling a greater sense of purpose? Higher levels of purpose directly correlate to higher levels of grit. The grittiest people see their ultimate aims as deeply connected to the world beyond themselves. You could be a bricklayer simply laying the bricks for the cathedral or you could be a bricklayer building the house of God. It’s largely up to you to determine what purpose holds bigger meaning in your life. Whatever you come up with has the capacity to raise your level of grit!
Key Takeaway 4: Adopt a Growth Mindset
The last way to grow your grit is to develop a growth mindset. Bill McNab the past CEO of Vanguard the world’s largest provider of mutual funds. He interviewed leaders within his organization to see who were successful and who weren’t. He found that long-term success was dependent on the core belief those who believe that “I can’t learn anymore” or “I am what I am” are the people who usually fail to move up in their career. Being gritty one needs to scrap the theory that your abilities are fixed. This is not true! Neuroscience has shown that we have an enormous capacity to change and learn the skills as we get older. As discussed, while reviewing Mindset by Carol Dweck, our brain is generally plastic and you can mold it through sustained efforts and experience. Reflect on the time when you start something new that you were scared of. You thought you couldn’t learn but you actually did learn and went on to further improve. Use this memory and experience to disrupt any beliefs that your abilities are fixed. In the end, learning to stick to something is a life skill that we can all develop!
By remembering that science shows that grit matter more than talent. We all have the capacity to grow our grit! We can develop the confidence to start taking action despite how untalented we think we are. That’s the core message I wanted to share with you this Christmas!
Wishing you all Merry Christmas and let’s deck the halls with hollies of Grit!