I was what you might call a “Type A,” give-it-your-all-even-if-it-kills-you kind of student. I was the one on the front bench, hand raised, enthusiastically begging “Pick me! Pick me!” And I liked it that way.
What I never felt about myself was that I was particularly smart. I didn’t feel like academic concepts came as naturally to me as they did to others. Over time, that did start to weigh on me a little bit. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if I were naturally smart? If I could comprehend complex topics at the drop of a hat, rather than spending hours at the library, slogging away? Probably. After all, even when I did give it my all, my grades just never seemed to touch those who were naturally smart. But it was a conversation with my roommates that changed my perspective on that, and I’ve never looked back.
My eyes were opened to the idea that there was value in the talents that I did possess, in the grit and perseverance that I felt was non-negotiable to keep up; in my social skills that allowed me to build relationships that I value to this very day. And so, when I came across this video, it was inevitable that the subject matter resonated.
“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. 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. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” tweet
Here, American academic, psychologist, and author, Angela Lee Duckworth, speaks about grit. Basing her conclusions on research, Duckworth found that it was the grittier kids who were more likely to see their academic goals through. She found that it was possible to instill grit and perseverance through a method called the “growth mindset,” and idea developed at Stanford University. The idea here is that the ability to learn isn’t fixed, and that it can be altered with effort.
Everyone’s talent varies. The ability to thrive comes when we learn to hone and leverage what talent we do have alongside our grittiness.