Do You Have GRIT?

November 01, 2016
Laura Beck, The Eden Alternative
angela-duckworthLeading Age Keynote Speaker Angela Duckworth Has the Answer…

Grit.  What is it?  According to psychologist Angela Duckworth, there are very specific markers that define grit.  The cliff notes are essentially this:  perseverance and passion over the long-term.  Sound familiar?  Do you resonate?  No doubt, as committed culture changers, you are well-acquainted with this particular cocktail for success. Let’s face it… culture change can frequently feel like you are swimming upstream against the current of “business as usual.”  So, how can grit keep us focused on our goals for redefining the culture of care in our organizations?

First of all, Duckworth emphasizes that talent is simply not enough.  She notes that “talent is no guarantee that you will do deliberate practice, and it is no guarantee that you will show up and not drop out.”  Duckworth succinctly captures the role of talent in this formula:  talent x effort = skill.  And when skill is combined with effort, you create the possibility for profound achievement.

So what is “deliberate practice?”  Duckworth boils this concept down into 4 simple steps she defined by interviewing world class experts.  They are:

  • Set a stretch goal – one tiny thing beyond your reach
  • Focus 100% into being present for achievement of your stretch goal
  • Get feedback from others on the effectiveness of your message/efforts
  • Reflect and refine

Duckworth’s research reveals that, at the end of the day, grit is really a measure of the amount of DELIBERATE practice we are willing to do.  To build grit, Duckworth maintains that dogged commitment to deliberate practice should be combined with 1) developing your interests before training your weaknesses; 2) cultivating a sense of purpose that focuses ultimately on serving the needs of others; and 3) an ardent belief that is human nature to continue to grow.

How convenient, right?  Duckworth’s theory is a rock solid affirmation of what we teach through the Eden Alternative Philosophy (see the Ten Principles of The Eden Alternative).  I share this not to toot our horn, but to reassure you that you already have the tools, my friends.  And the beautiful thing is their pliability and adaptability to so many forms of practice, theory, and application.  Make them work for you.  Consider meaningful conversations in your team around the following:

  • What does grit mean to you?
  • What is one stretch goal you would like to set for yourself as a culture changer?
  • What is one bit of feedback you’ve received about your efforts that really spoke to you?
  • What was the outcome when applied the feedback you received?
  • What aspect of your work do you feel most passionate about?
  • What brings a sense of purpose to your work?

Get gritty… and grow.

See Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk here.


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