What is grit?
Living life like it's a marathon - not a sprint?
The first chapter title - Showing Up - caught my eye. For the past few years I have noticed that certain students will not approach a problem when it appears in form to be difficult or unpleasant. These students literally give up without reading a single word. They refuse to consider that the problem may be dissected into smaller chunks, that their current skills may be sufficient for solving new problems, or that they might learn something from doing a difficult task. They turn their backs instead of toeing the line. They put their heads in their hands, and they stare at their shoes. For some, I must break through their barriers to build them up to the level that they will even show up.
The first chapter in Duckworth's book set out to contrast people like these students with the other end of the spectrum. In the same classroom, I can easily and continually call upon certain students who refuse to give up. These are the ones who enjoy a challenge, even at the risk of making mistakes or losing face. These are the students who are joyful when they discover mistakes and find fixes.
I feel like the first chapter gave me these paragraphs to ponder:
Why were the highly accomplished so dogged in their pursuits? For most, there was no realistic expectation of ever catching up to their ambitions. In their own eyes, they were never good enough. They were the opposite of complacent. And yet, in a very real sense, they were satisfied being unsatisfied. Each was chasing something of unparalleled interest and importance, and it was the chase - as much as the capture - that was gratifying. Even if some of the things they had to do were boring, or frustrating, or even painful, they wouldn't dream of giving up. Their passion was enduring.
In sum, no matter the domain, the highly successful had a kind of ferocious determination that played out in two ways. First, these exemplars were unusually resilient and hardworking. Second, they knew in a very, very deep way what it was they wanted. They not only had determination, they had direction.
It was this combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special. In a word, they had grit.
I like the word direction. Perhaps that's the inspiration for all of the arrows on the book's jacket. While the word does nothing to provide answers to the questions -
In fact, the inner flap of the book jacket promises these insights:
Why any effort you make ultimately counts twice toward your goal
I shall read on about grit. I'm not sure what to expect, but I'll be on the lookout for any clarity that might present itself.