Day 127 (of 185) takeaways from @duckworthw “Grit”
I really appreciate that the book Grit acknowledges the importance we give ‘talent’, but how talent itself is not enough…..but when ‘others’ succeed in areas we would like to, it’s a great excuse: they had ‘more’ talent…..
I appreciate her emphasis on how ‘talent’ may start people on a path, but it’s not enough to keep them there. She uses a neat formula:
talent x effort = skill (acknowledging that a talent for music isn’t enough if you don’t actually use it)
and skill x effort = achievement (acknowledging that ‘just using it’ isn’t enough if you’re not pushing yourself)
Rigor is about effort – but a focus on quality, not simply quantity; though quantity of swimming laps (in a Mark Spitz example) does help to refine the quality of what is being done! Some people may be ‘born to do something’ but it helps if they like to do that (made me think of Andre Agassiz who was always a very skilled tennis player, but when he learned to enjoy it and become of the greatest ever!)
I like how she shares an idea from Warren Buffet: list your 25 career goals, prioritize five – just five – and then avoid those other 20 ‘distractors’ at all costs to kee[ your focus on the goal(s) that matter most. <— this is hard. Duckworth tried it and hated it….I tried it and hated it….but I am going to do it again….
in large part because if you have a clear compass heading towards your passion/priority it will make it easier to deal with rejection (most writers experience 96%+ rejection) and obstacles that make you ‘try, try, try again – then do something different’ – or as the green berets say: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.
Grit is also about overcoming reasons for quitting what you’re doing. Four common thoughts:
The effort isn’t worth it
This isn’t important to me
I can’t do this, so I might as well give up
and there’s nothing wrong with these thoughts – especially when ‘exploring what’s available’ (this is what I do with my young learners during geniushour – follow a passion or eliminate what you thought might be a passion….but isn’t.)
Interest: passion means intrinsic worth to doing what you do
Practice: need the capacity to do things better tomorrow than you did yesterday
(gotta want to to improve, whatever it takes!)
Purpose: a purpose allows you to keep working on ‘it’ for a lifetime (another connection to geniushour was when parents weren’t happy when I explained that the “due date” was never…..or at least a passion project should never ever really be “done”)
Hope: you need to know why you want/have to ‘rise to the occasion’ – and if knocked down, knowing you’ll get back up.
Then the comparison of “the good old days” approach of schools prepping students for the struggles of the “real world” vs those who have been encouraged to “follow your passion” vs those that are doing what they do because they “were told to”.
An interesting mix of stories leading to some shares around “going to do what you love”
– if you like what you do, you are satisfied with your job
– you also perform better
Passion = a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening
There is also a message about “praise” – via a story about Jeff Bezos explaining an invention to his mom, who listened asked a question and nodded encouragingly – but didn’t understand everything <— this connects to Sugata Mitra’s GrannyCloud – an online service providing “granny’s” providing positive feedback to learners around the world – the focus is on positive praise and wondering “whats next?” as part of encouragement. Nice that this focus on positive feedback is being reinforced time and time again!
And I really like the “exploration rules” taken from “How to Solve the New York Times Crossword Puzzle”:
Begin with the answers you’re surest of and build from there.
Don’t be afraid to guess….
Don’t be afraid to erase an answer that isn’t working out (this is probably the hardest – especially if you’ve put a lot of time into it….)
Then there is the need for “deliberate practice” – and this isn’t ‘because you have to’ (though you do) it is about ‘because you want to” (either because you enjoy it or you recognize you need to in order to accomplish something ‘more’.
And as for figuring out your ‘sense of purpose’, there are some ideas:
– reflect on how the work you’re already doing can make a positive contribution to society
– think about how, in small but meaningful ways, you can change your current work to enhance its connection to your core values
– find inspiration in a purposeful role model
I also found it interesting to see that a study was done with Teach For America applicants around Grit, optimism and happiness – all of which have good research that supports their value (not to mention growth mindsets) that I can’t help but wonder if they would be a valuable part of an application process into a program….a district…..a school? (Rethinking my interview strategies….) – and Angela does a great synthesis of Dwecks work!
I spent a lot of time thinking about her observation that experiencing trauma without control can be debilitating – especially for learners in poverty who aren’t getting enough opportunities to show/experience mastery and the kids who cruise along until they experience their first failure and get stuck, uncertain what t do ‘next’.
One of her comments around parenting for Grit stuck with me:
Do I think every moment of a child’s play should be scripted? Not at all. But I do think kids thrice when they spend at least some part of their week doing hard things that interest them.
Page 239/240 talks about learned industriousness – hmmmm tasks vs learning – into s important to have some struggles to overcome, but there needs to be an identified purpose
And she winds up with some examples of the importance of being part of a culture of Grit. By associating with likeminded “oddballs”, great accomplishments can be achieved! She also compares it to the Finnish mindset of Sisu – not quite a perfect translation to Grit, but means to ‘get the better of bad fortune by proving you can stand worse’; modelling by firmness, courage and determination.
As she shares some sports cultures (with a positive shoutout to my Seattle Seahawks) I like the reference to the culture of the North Carolina Women’s Soccer program: we’ll try anything and if it works, we’ll keep doing it!
I was surprised to see her refer to the Beep Test (a Canadian running test – but has best impact when the athletes understand that it is a mental test as much as an aerobic challenge…..and then to see that some programs (specifically West Point) reduce attrition significantly by eliminating hazing <– not/never a good ‘test’ for culling the weak. Instead the culture is to treat everyone with respect and when someone is struggling, to provide a plan that will lead to success. A Growth Mindset focused on positive reinforcement (yes you can) rather than negatives (quit, you loser).
In other words, Grit can lead to a culture of social multipliers; learning from each other so that each person sees, models and shares so that all succeed. Summarized even by Pete Carrolls question to the author: how can this day be helpful to you? Because it’s not about one thing (one challenge, one long worksheet) it’s about a million smaller details that all work together – and it’s not about “winnng” but about competition in the purest sense- personal excellence that includes wins and fails to compete together – not about creating losers. This is an interesting MindShift for me: To compete so that even fails aren’t seen as anything less than a best effort – because even the best decisions can lead to the worst possible outcomes because of uncontrollable factors (see how the Seahawks finished Super Bowl 49)
Grit is more than ‘doing more’. It’s more than just doing what you love. It’s about finishing strong. Finishing at the ‘right time’. About having a plan and support to finish well…not just finish more stuff.