Why does a negative experience inspire one person to try harder, and deter another from trying again? And why are some of us so easily discouraged while others naturally ‘bounce back’ from tough times? The difference is (at least partially) grit. And some of us need more of it, according to master in the field, Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, who affirms that ‘grit, passion and long-term perseverance’ are key indicators of success.

So, how is grit developed and what can we do to increase ours? Research is currently being performed to answer this question, in a relatively new field of study. One popular assertion stresses the importance of educators promoting a ‘growth mindset’ versus a ‘fixed mindset’ in classrooms. A growth mindset asserts that the ability to learn improves with increased effort, while a fixed mindset doesn’t allow for any change in the brain. Studies have shown that when educators explain to kids that pushing themselves out of their comfort zone will actually make their brains stronger and change in response to the challenge, students are far more likely to persevere when confronted with a difficult problem; when this concept goes unexplained, there’s a much greater tendency to give up and accept defeat.

Praise Qualities, Not Results. To help encourage tenacity in our own kids and in each other we need to compliment qualities like effort, strategy and progress, rather than focusing on results. Highlighting these qualities rather than the end result instills a deeper sense of self-confidence, and can significantly contribute to the development of resilience and grit.

When we believe we have the tools and ability to be successful we are far more likely to persist during times of trouble. And, as most of us know, this is what life is: a beautiful marathon of ups and downs (not a sprint). We each need to develop the ability to adapt, as unexpected obstacles shift our lives in unpredictable ways. We need to be willing to fail many times without being too discouraged, and to get back up and start again using the lessons we’ve learned. This is the only way we can truly ‘win’ in the game of life.

* Song for this moment (because you too are full of light and wonder):


“Wonder”, featuring Emeli Sandé with Naughty Boy. 

Related links:

* Dr. Carole Dweck’s ‘Ted Talk’ on ‘Growth Mindset’: https://goo.gl/BPRUD5

* Dr. Angela Lee Ducksworth ‘Ted Talk’ onGrit as Predictor of Success’http://goo.gl/HXDKqB

* Huffington post article, ‘The Leadership Philosophy of 3 P’s: Passion, Purpose, People’: http://goo.gl/Ow1OFj