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Your Grit Score

So, I’m finally back from my two-week trip to India. It was a LONG trip, but I learned so much in that time that I will be sharing with you over the next few weeks. This week, I wanted to share one of the lessons we received on grit. During our retreat, we were scheduled to go on a hike. We had two options: a shorter hike that just walked along the river for about 5 km or a longer hike that took us to the waterfall and would take about 7-9 km. Doesn’t seem so long, but, in the Himalayas, it’s long. The day before the hike, we began preparing our son, Shaan. He’s 13 and endurance events aren’t really his thing, but we knew it would be an experience. 

The next morning, we woke up early to eat and get ready for the hike. Sunny had already left, leaving me to wake up Shaan, knowing this was going to be a battle. So, here I am struggling with my 13-year-old to get him up to go hiking at 7am – wars have been fought with less bloodshed, I’m sure. Anyways, we finally get him downstairs, after some bribery and threats, and we are all off for the hiking tour. Sunny has already asked the guide for the shorter route, so that Shaan will be able to make it.  

We get to the trail entrance and start down the hill, over the suspension bridge and Shaan stops his dad. He asks, “Is this the hike with the waterfalls, or the easy one?” The guide responds that it’s the easy one. Surprisingly, Shaan goes to his dad, “I want to do the longer one and see the waterfalls. Don’t worry Dad, we can do it. We go big or we go home – right?” Now for those of you who don’t know, the Kaila family mantra is “we go big, or we go home.” The entire group was quite surprised with Shaan’s willingness to take the longer route. With this new plan, we had to go back up the hill, back into the cars, and drive down the road 6km to the next trail entrance. During our car ride, one of our partners began talking to Shaan about his “Grit Score” and how proud we all were of him. That got us chatting about the book, Grit.  

Angela Duckworth wrote the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance where she details how grit is actually a combination of passion and perseverance. Goals that are pursued with passion and perseverance will lead to grit – which is resilience. The fact that Shaan made the decision himself to take the longer route, and was happily engaged in the journey, showed his grit level. Lisa simplified the concept by pointing out that Shaan had exhibited a high grit score that day, by making the choice to do something outside of his comfort zone and completing that goal. And it’s true; there are days where we all need to be resilient and have a high grit score, even though we don’t want to.  

On the way home, we listened to a podcast with Angela where she discussed some key principles of grit that I wanted to share with all of you.  

How can we develop grit in our children?  

  1. Kids feel warmth from their parents – Ensure your kids know that they are loved and appreciated. 
  2. Great parents are demanding – Ensure that you support you kids when they fail, and remind them that with hard work and practice, they can continue to improve and succeed. 
  3. Autonomy support – Respect your kids’ choices and be their cheerleader by helping to motivate them. 

What makes “gritty” people? 

People who really have grit are intrinsically motivated. Being excellent at what they want, not what they will get out of something. So, I may have offered Shaan a massage if he did the hike, however, I never told him that he had to do the long or short one to get it. He made that choice, he wanted to do the long one himself, and so he built grit to get it done.  

People who are “gritty” have an optimistic explanation for things that happen to them. They think of life and things that happen to them as temporary. For example, it wasn’t my day today at tennis. People who have a pessimistic way of looking at life would say, I suck at tennis.  

How are we able to accomplish our goals with grit?  

  1. State what the goal is – What do we want to accomplish? 
  2. Your Why – What is the desired outcome if you achieve your goal (is it an emotion of happiness at passing the class)? 
  3. What is the obstacle that is standing in the way of your goal? 
  4. Finally, make a plan – What the most important outcome is, what’s standing in your way, and how do I make a plan to get it. 

It was a long hike! My butt hurt by the end of it. But we were so happy when Shaan finally made it up the hill. He may have collapsed once he got into the car and there may have been a few tears when the hill just wouldn’t end, but at the end of the day, Shaan exhibited true grit, was intrinsically motivated, and had an optimistic view of achieving his goal. I was so proud of him, and hope these few tips for grit help you to motivate yourself, your kids, or your team, to develop a new appreciation for grit and resilience.  

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