Grit

“Success is never final and failure never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” ~ George Tilton

I can’t seem to stop talking about grit, and the power it can play in a child’s (and our own) life. Last time I wrote about it, I likened it to Priority # 6: Allow Obstacles to Become Opportunities. But it could also be linked to Priority #5: Value Success and Failure.

My grit focus might be because I’m right in the middle of Paul Tough’s new book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012). In his book, Tough credits Angela Duckworth with this definition of grit: “A passionate commitment to a single mission and an unswerving dedication to achieve that mission.” Duckworth also developed a test to measure grit, and called it the Grit Scale. It’s a short test of twelve items that includes questions like, “Setbacks don’t discourage me,” “I am a hard worker,” and “I finish whatever I begin.” Test participants score themselves on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 meaning “very much like me” and 1 meaning “not at all like me.”

Today’s generation of parents, often nicknamed helicopter, bulldozer or curling (from the sport of curling where the ice is constantly swept in front of the rock so the rock has a smooth and faster ride) seem to think that kids should not struggle, fail, or have any obstacles to overcome. But when you look back on your life, where have you learned the most – from your successes or from your failures? In the Biggest Job Parenting workshops, most people answer they’ve learned more from their failures than their successes. If this is the way most of us answer, why then, are we so afraid to see our kids fail? Not that we would intentionally set our kids up to fail, but what if some failures taught them the character trait of grit? Or we, as parents, helped them simply learn from their failures, get back on the horse, and be able to answer with a 5 that “setbacks don’t discourage me.”

Here’s to grit, and what it can add to our character.

Resource: How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough; pp. 74 – 75