True Grit: Does it Help You Become More Successful?
By Abby Ngwako, M.Ed., Adjunct Faculty, Psychology
Recently, I came across the idea of “true grit,” or the ability to persevere through the greatest of odds and succeed. This resonated with me because of its relation to my thesis topic on resiliency and cultural expectations where I assessed how cultural upbringing affected resiliency in children.
I first ran across this idea in a September 2012 piece on NBC.com that described how two New York City schools, KIPP Academy and Riverside Country School, were applying a new approach to education. These schools believe that character is a strong predictor of a child’s future success, and that a child’s emotional makeup actually counts more toward predicting success than grades or IQ. The two schools, one a charter school in an inner city and the other a wealthy private school, are teaching children to learn from failure. They hope to help children develop the kind of character strength that overcomes life’s roadblocks.
It’s easy to focus talk on success. It’s the exciting results people want to hear about. But success doesn’t prepare you for when things don’t go your way. Perhaps more important, is to understand how you arrive at your triumphs.
Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth interviewed top performers in various fields from music to military to spelling bees. Duckworth asked whether grit could be taught. She finds that achievers use tenacious perseverance to get to the top.
Use Your Challenges
Interestingly, those who consider themselves less talented attribute their success to having greater endurance. Achievers work on their weaknesses, challenging themselves. They use their mistakes as impetus to conquer beyond failures. Research backs up this kind of unrelenting determination as a defining characteristic of successful people.
The ability to find traction when faced with slippery roads, and insuppressible courage when confronted by daunting obstacles is what grit is about. Whether it can be taught in classrooms or not, you have the ability to gain it with every challenge you face.
So then, should grit be taught in classrooms? Could grit be a much more valuable predictor of future success? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Abigail Ngwako is an adjunct instructor with CTU in Psychology, Sociology and Ethics. She holds a Master of Education with a concentration in Educational Psychology from National-Louis University and her Bachelor's degree from Purdue University in Political Science and Communications. She can be found on LinkedIn.
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