You may have also heard about GRIT through Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk video recorded in 2013. Angela was a high -flying consultant and then searched for her own purpose to become a seventh grade math teacher. She eventually went back to school to become a psychologist and studied with researchers to determine why some people have more stick-to-itiveness than others. She found that IQ and talent weren’t the secret to outstanding achievement but a blend of passion and persistence she calls “GRIT” Her most recent book GRIT THE POWER OF PASSION AND PERSEVERANCE lays out her findings about GRIT, who has it, how it changes over time, and how to work on getting more of it.
There are many definitions of GRIT, but basically it seems that GRIT is your ability to be passionate about what you do. You say things like, “I love my job or my work!” You have a clear purpose. You know where you are heading and why you do what you do. You have perseverance. You keep at your goal, you don’t give up and you persistently chip away at learning more and getting better. Finally, GRIT is about hope. A focus on the positive, your glass is half-full and bubbling over, you learn from mistakes, and you refuse to let something get in the way of your goal!
Hmmmm. I’m thinking that if you are a building principal, you have to rank pretty high on the GRIT scale! A building principal is a servant leader, the work is missional and each day you get to lay your exhausted head on the pillow and know that you changed lives for the better and made a difference in this world. Sounds like passion to me! You have got to love what you do and wake up with joy each day to greet a new opportunity to learn with and from others and chip away at your goal.
Oh yeah, you have a pretty lofty goal, to ensure that EVERY child in your building is achieving academically, socially, and emotionally to his or her fullest extent. AND you do this by ensuring that EVERY child has a high-quality teacher (a teacher that you would place your own child or grandchild with) Sounds like clear purpose to me!
Perseverance? It comes with the job description. You have to keep chipping away and working toward making yourself better and those around you. You continually hammer away at your mission, your message, and your life work-changing the lives of children to help them be great citizens of this world.
Finally, where would a principal be without hope? The daily hardships, the knowledge you have of what the children face each day is daunting and eats away at your heart. These are the situations that wake you up at night in a cold sweat as you try to find yet another way to meet a child’s needs so they can be successful. Without hope, no one would do the job of the principal.
In the book GRIT to GREAT, Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval point to the fact that failure is how we learn- it is how GRIT is developed and acquired. The four essential components they use to define Grit are: Guts, Resilience, Initiative and Tenacity.
Guts- Risk-taking, putting yourself on the line, not knowing what the outcome will be, taking on tough challenges and persisting even amongst the most difficult adversity.
Resilience-Focused motivation no matter what failures, obstacles, and adversities get in the way.
Initiative- A self-starter, identifying problems and creatively problem solving via innovation.
Tenacity- Relentless ability to stay focused on a goal. Requires hard work and determination, life long learning, never satisfied with where you are and always practicing or learning how to become better.
The authors provide several examples of what they call GRIT BUILDERS. Here are some of my favorites:
- Give some grit-Encourage parents, faculty and staff, yourself and others to build grit by supporting others, but also by having them learn on their own. Don’t be a fixer, but give feedback that allows for others to redo mistakes and to make their own peanut butter and banana sandwich instead of making it for them.
- Stop the excuses- The next time you make an excuse for something you didn’t do or do well, turn the excuse into a question. What could I have done differently? Make a note of your answer and then do it differently next time.
- Make yourself uncomfortable- Get out of your comfort zone. Daniel Pink suggests driving a different way home, ordering the 11th item on a menu, learn a new language, and look for uncommon commonalities. The brain craves novelty and these types of activities will keep your brain sharp and make you more creative.
- Doing nothing is doing something- The next time you are waiting at the dentist or doctor’s office, instead of getting out your phone and checking Facebook or email, sit quietly and think about your own feelings. What is going on in the world around you? What haven’t you noticed and you are hungry or thirsty for? It is in these quiet times that we can be most creative, solve problems, and engage with the world around us.
- Hit the thirty-second pause button- Want to reach for that cookie, brownie, doughnut, or other sweet treat that you know you shouldn’t have? How about counting to thirty? You may find the impulse will fade and you can carry on with work.
- Be grateful- A focus on gratitude has proven to put people in more positive moods, which in turn help us make better choices. Likewise, negative moods make us more impulsive. So pause for 30 seconds AND be thankful for what you have!
- Recharge your spirit-Had a bad day? Give yourself a break, walk away and seek a fresh perspective and sometimes plain old sleep is the best medicine. Sleep is restorative and improves brain function, reasoning, and attention to detail.
- Setbacks move you forward- FAIL forward! Allow yourself to learn from mistakes or failures to succeed for the next time. Then try, try, again and again.
How GRITTY ARE YOU?
Duckworth offers this GRIT self-assessment and Thaler and Koval offer a GRIT Quiz at www.grittogreat.com. Duckworth’s TED Talk on GRIT can be accessed here: GRIT: The power of passion and perseverance
GOT GRIT? You bet you do! In order to carry out the work of a principal you passionately provide purposeful, persistent, persevering, positivity and pluck! Next time you doubt yourself, the going gets rough, or you feel you have let others down, GET GRITTY!