Do you ever wish you could predict who will stick with their sport and reach the college ranks, national level or pros? There are so many factors that go into becoming a high performing athlete: motivation, talent, good coaching, supportive environment.
And, what if these same factors that predicted success in sport, also predicted success in learning, job performance and could identify those who can push through adverse conditions?
As it turns out, they can. There’s a growing body of research called “grit.” According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, grit is defined as “firmness of character; indomitable spirit.” Researcher Angela Duckworth has taken the lead on studying grit and tweaked this definition to be “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”
We’ve all heard stories of the super-talented athlete who just didn’t fulfill his or her potential. Or conversely, there’s the story of the moderately talented athlete who excelled beyond expectations. Duckworth has begun the work of identifying the characteristics of grit, which helps to explain, at least in part, these phenomenon. Here’s the short list of characteristic:
>> Courage “” The ability to overcome fear of failure, which often takes the form of “perfectionism” in youth and collegiate student-athletes. Perfectionism runs rampant in youth sport and chips away at grit.
>> Conscientiousness “” Defined as careful and painstakingly meticulous, Duckworth found this to be a strong predictor of grit and therefore job proficiency and academic success. Steph Curry with his precise work ethic is a prime example of conscientiousness in sport.
>> Long-Term Goals and Endurance/Follow Through “” Long-term goals help to give us a vision or “why” to be gritty. Duckworth writes, “”¦ achievement is the product of talent and effort, the latter a function of the intensity, direction and duration of one’s exertions towards a long-term goal.” Effort being the controllable part of that equation, it’s the most valuable area to focus our energy.
>> Resilience: Optimism, Confidence, and Creativity “” Gritty people believe, “everything will be alright in the end; and if it is not alright, it is not the end.” Mastery is a long-term journey that is guaranteed to have significant ups and downs. Bouncing back quickly from adversity, keeps you in the game, which improves your chances of accomplishing your long-term goals.
>> Excellence vs. Perfection: What’s the difference? Striving to be perfect is unrealistic and inflexible. It is fueled by anxiety and sets the athlete up to be easily frustrated. On the other hand, excellence is a mindset. Those who strive for excellence embrace failure, which helps the athlete stay on course for long-term fulfillment. Ask or read about any professional athlete and chances are you will hear a story of overcoming adversity, challenges they faced and how they have learned to manage themselves under pressure over the years.
In other words, how they became and stayed gritty.