Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Part III Growing Grit From the Outside In – 10. Parenting For Grit

  • Here is some pretty direct advice for parents and mentors. While there is no research on parenting and grit, Duckworth is able to extrapolate and give parents some useful guidelines. The key ingredients are having high expectations and offering solid support. Parents should do more questioning and listening and less lecturing and criticizing. Parents should, however, lay down the law on matters of discipline. Striking a balance between being supportive and demanding seems to be the way to go. Research does show that students treated this way do better in school, suffer from less anxiety and depression, and are less likely to engage in delinquent behavior. All of this is true for other adults in children’s lives like mentors and teachers.

11. The Playing Fields of Grit

  • Studies show that it is vital for children to engage in structured activities beyond the school day with an adult in charge. One study showed that students who participated in an extracurricular activity for two or more years were much more likely to graduate from college and enjoy success later in life. By sticking with something students show that they can follow through on commitments. This is a much better predictor of success in college than grades and SAT’s. Grit seems to be transferable. Unfortunately, poor kids in poor schools have fewer opportunities for extracurricular activities and they have parents less able to support them in activities that are not totally run by schools.
  • Here Duckworth introduces the Hard Thing Rule. Here every member of the family has to engage in one hard thing. This is a thing that requires daily deliberate practice. Members are allowed to quit their hard thing but not until the season is over or the tuition runs out. It’s important that people pick their own hard thing and that students be required at some point to work on their hard thing for a least two years. Again this shows how poor students are disadvantaged as in elementary school, extracurricular hard things require parent support, planning, and involvement.

12. A Culture of Grit

  • Culture is the shared norms and values of a group of people, and the culture you live in powerfully shapes just about every aspect of our being. If you want to be grittier, find a gritty culture and join it. If you are a leader, the goal is to create a gritty culture. Giving people a gritty example to follow is key. It’s easier to get grit by conforming in a gritty culture than it is to do it yourself. Angela includes examples from two famous successful coaches who promote grit intentionally.

13. Conclusion

  • The key here is that you can grow your grit. You can do it alone, but it helps if you have parents, bosses, mentor and friends helping. The second point is that grit is correlated with success and happiness. If you are more gritty you are more likely to enjoy a healthy emotional life. While too much of anything is usually bad, Duckworth hasn’t yet found this to be the case with grit. She has yet to find anyone who wishes they would be less gritty once they are introduced to the concept.
  • While grit is important, it isn’t the only important character trait. It is often associated with other traits. If you define genius as being able to accomplish great things without effort, then you are not a genius. If, however, you define genius as working toward excellence ceaselessly with every element of your being, then you to can be a genius too. Thanks Angela.

Angela Duckworth

  • Angela is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and professor of psychology and the University of Pennsylvania. She has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs. Prior to her career in research, she founded an award-winning summer school for low-income children. She is also the founder and scientific director of the Character Lab, a nonprofit with a mission to advance the science and practice of character development. She completed her BA in neurobiology at Harvard, her MSc in neuroscience at Oxford, and her PhD in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance is her first book.
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