In my reading and study of Grit, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is composed of three fundamental elements:
1) A long-term goal that you are passionate about and which you find meaningful
2) A Growth Mindset
In her discussions of Grit, Dr. Angela Duckworth spends a lot of time looking at world-class performers: the highest-level inventors, coaches, athletes, geniuses, and musicians. I’ve found that this is typical of books of this type. Even though everybody reads these books looking for things they can do to improve their own (largely mid-list) lives, nobody wants to read about someone who went from frustratingly mediocre to “good enough.”
Or it could be that a Harvard-Educated, world-renowned research just rubs elbows with a lot of top-level players.
Well, I didn’t go to Harvard. The closest thing I have to that is a master’s degree in history (which I never really use) from Tulane. I work at a community college, and I’m happy there.
In fact, this whole thing began with us trying to build some Grit (or at least general perseverance) into our First Year Seminar class to help our new students transition into the mindset they’d need to succeed at college.
We especially focus on academically under-prepared students, who need extra help. Students who would often just be excluded by four-year institutions are one of our largest constituencies, and we are proud of that.
Part of my process in this series, and in my research for the school, is to move away from the hero-worship and ground the valuable concepts of Grit, growth mindsets, self-control/executive function/emotional regulation/conscientiousness in the realm of the average (or even academically below-average) person.
Because I’m no superstar, and there’s only so much I can learn from someone who started practicing four hours a day at age three.
I’m 41. That ship sailed a long time ago. Our students mostly range from 18-24, but that “train for ten years from childhood” ship has sailed for them, too. There are no Mozarts here.
But I do believe there’s a lot to learn, even for an old dog like me. The key is Disciplined Practice, which I’ll talk about next week.