My ONLY New Year Resolution for 2015: Show some GRIT

Photo Credit - Location Astrup Fearnley Museum
I have always wanted to start a blog of my own and although I did pen down a few pieces of writing over the last few years, I never quite managed to thread them into an organized blog and be consistent with my writing. Well since it’s that time of the year when you’re suppose to revive age-old ambitions and shape them into New Year resolutions, I thought now might be the right moment to pilot my blog project. And luckily I stumbled upon the best bit of advice I could get, featured in the Ted talk I share below.

The talk features an American psychologist, Angela Lee Duckworth who studies to determine how factors such as grit, perseverance, hard work and self-control are a better indicator of success as compared to mere intelligence.

For the past 11 years, Angela has been researching on the power of grit and how it relates to success. A measure of how gritty you are, basically means how loyal and consistent you remain towards achieving your goals over a period of many years. So if you can stick long enough to the road, there are more chances that you will indeed reach your desired destination.

The most interesting thing noticed during this research was that talent and grit either aren’t related at all or are actually inversely related. If you were good at something wouldn’t you be more likely to spend more time practicing it? Angela’s research showed that might not always be true. Some talented individuals usually aim for a threshold and when they get to a certain level of proficiency, they usually stop. So they actually work less hard.  One the other hand, if you’re not trying to reach a certain point but only giving your best to something– then there’s no limit, ceiling or threshold. In academics, kids who are not merely satisfied with an A or an A+ but who have no limit to how much they want to learn and succeed, they are both talented and gritty. It doesn’t necessarily mean that all talented people are un-gritty. The most successful people are a combination of both. Being merely talented doesn’t guarantee success, it doesn’t guarantee how hardworking or passionate you are towards something.

Towards the end of her talk, Angela mentions that grit is the most important characteristic we need to inculcate in young learners so that they have a better chance of succeeding at their goals. As a teacher, I found this very interesting as she mentions that the best way to develop grit in students is by adapting a growth mindset. Both educators and learners need to believe that basic qualities like intelligence or talent can be developed through hard work and dedication.

People who adapt this mindset in contrast to the ‘fixed mindset’  – where it is believed that these basic abilities are fixed traits  – have a better chance of working more resiliently towards their goals – i.e. they develop better grit. Teaching a growth mindset creates a love and awareness for learning and resilience that is essential to great accomplishment. It also means that you don not give up easily in the face of failure and stick through till the end. As Woody Allen once quipped that 80 percent of success in life is just showing up and well it seems like grit is one factor that determines who’s most likely to show up.

While watching the talk I reflected on some of the choices I have made over the years and how well I stuck to them. As opposed to academics, I found myself to be more passionate and eager to learn where my role as a teacher was concerned. I started off as an assistant teacher and felt I needed to learn a lot before I could lead a successful classroom session teaching science to students. When I started off, I felt my oral Norwegian language skills would be inadequate to make the sessions I led interesting, interactive and a good enough learning experience for the audience/students. Hence I used my time as an assistant very seriously to keenly observe and learn from my colleagues who led these sessions and I often used more time than they would normally use to prepare myself when I was to lead a session.

On the contrary, when it came to academics, I had always considered myself an intelligent student so I wouldn’t always bother to put in the same effort for an upcoming exam as I would while preparing for a my role as a teacher. As a result of which I noticed I progressed more rapidly in my role as a teacher in contrast to my role as a student. I showed more grit while working as a teacher in the classroom as. I felt I didn’t have a limit, I just needed to learn the maximum and be the best possible science communicator for my students in each and every session I led.

So the conclusion drawn is that as the clock strikes midnight and the New Year dawns on us, my resolution for the coming days is to merely show more grit towards achieving my goals. That would include being more consistent with my writing and updating this blog regularly. Moreover as an educationist I will make sure I communicate and inculcate these qualities into my students. If you’re a teacher or are simply wondering what could be the best way for you to fulfil your dreams, then I’d say learn and practice how best you can stick to working towards your goals. Anything else doesn’t really matter, as long as you are loyal towards your goals and have the stamina to work towards them over a long period of time, then that’s all that is needed. You’re good enough as long as you know how to stick to your goals. Do give this video a watch and return to check if I’ve been able to stick to my goals especially the one to keep this blog running.

Have a gritty 2015! :)


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