By Chrisy Woll
A few weeks ago our CEO, Gregg Scoresby, encouraged us to watch a TED Talk called “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” by Angela Lee Duckworth. If you haven’t already seen this video, it’s well worth six minutes of your day!
In her TED Talk, Duckworth explores how “grit” in students—and people of all ages—drives success over the long haul. “Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality,” she says, adding, “…talent doesn’t make you gritty. Our data show very clearly that there are many talented individuals who simply do not follow through on their commitments.”
I love this concept—and I’ve seen it in action many times. It’s not always the smartest person, or group of people, who win but rather those who have the grit to win. I believe grit can be learned. Or, at least, we can sharpen the attributes that make us gritty.
Here’s how I break it down, letter by letter:
The G in Grit Stands for Guts
Having the guts to persevere makes the “G” the most important part of G-R-I-T. When we put ourselves out there, we might fail—in fact, we probably will—sometimes. Having the guts to allow ourselves, our co-workers, students, and the people around us to fail is important. The boldness it takes to step out of our comfort zone—and the willingness it takes to stand out from the crowd—should be celebrated and encouraged. Especially when pursuing your passion.
R Is for Resilience
Having the resilience to get back up and try again after failing is the next key to developing grit. It sucks when your ego gets bruised—nobody likes that feeling. But getting back up and starting over quickly can help the ache go away faster.
Encouraging those around us to be resilient after failure creates grit in ourselves, too. For example, a few years ago, I had an awesome leader who brought me an article about resiliency after I experienced an epic failure. I appreciated her thoughtfulness and encouragement to be more resilient—and to not wallow in my embarrassment.
I Is for Intensity
One of our core values at CampusLogic is: “We are strong and have the will to win.” To me, that means embracing intensity. Having the drive and determination to win beats intelligence and talent every time. I know a lot of talented people who just don’t exhibit any intensity. They often lose out on opportunities to less-talented people whose abundance of drive and determination truly shines through.
T Is for Tenacity
Perseverance and passion can be exhausting. So, grit naturally requires tenacity. This is a characteristic that almost anyone who completes their college degree exhibits at some point. Higher education is a long journey, and students must have the tenacity to push themselves over long periods of time to achieve their educational goals. Making it to graduation isn’t always about being the smartest; it’s also about being persistent.
Grit Is the Foundation of Student Success—and Yours
In her TED talk, Duckworth says, “Grit is living life like it is a marathon, not a sprint.” That’s especially true in higher education—and in our jobs supporting students’ college pursuits. Social intelligence, good looks, physical health nor IQ are as strong an indicator of success as grit, Duckworth notes. Grittier people keep their commitments no matter the challenges they face.
Having grit doesn’t mean being stubborn or inflexible. It’s the exact opposite; it’s passion and persistence. Hiring people with grit, talking to students about the power of grit, and pushing ourselves to have more grit will change lives—and help us to accomplish more than we ever though we could.