I first heard about grit from a TED talk by Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth that I watched recently. Angela is a psychologist who studied “intangible concepts such as self-control and grit to determine how they might predict both academic and professional success” and coined the term “grit.” During her time teaching math to seventh graders, she quickly realized that IQ was not the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. It’s actually the concept of grit that makes one successful. Not only having talent, but obtaining a good mix of passion and perseverance. It’s having a mentality of staying loyal to your dreams, following through with commitment, and standing back up again after failures. I automatically felt a connection to the idea of grit. And I knew if it could relate to me, it could relate to you too.
Growing up, I did decent in school. I made average (sometimes above average) grades, was placed in a couple advanced classes, and was very involved in athletics and community service. Lieutenant of the dance team and on the homecoming court. I considered myself to be well-rounded. I noticed in high school that my personality and determination always trumped my grades. I remember junior year when the conversational topics in between classes and lunch period switched from cute boys to college admissions – really quick. It seemed like everyone had it figured out. They knew where they were going (or at least their top 2 choices), their admission fees were paid, and even which dorm room they would live in. As for me, I wasn’t close to having it figured out. I remember getting home from dance practice with a pile of applications. Essays, transcripts, recommendations… it became overwhelming. I was fortunate to attend Baylor line camp the year before and I automatically KNEW that’s where I wanted to be. But, would I even get in? The thought haunted my mind. I didn’t have the highest ACT or SAT scores and I definitely wasn’t top 5% of my class. Out of my pile of applications, I grabbed Baylor’s to complete first. I had my eye on the prize – I was going to make it there…
Fast forward… I found my second home at Baylor University in Waco, TX. A true blessing. I wanted it bad enough and God met me half way. As I look back, my college years were the best time of my life! But, also the MOST challenging. I found myself at Baylor. From my spiritual growth, to creating and establishing long-lasting friendships (shout out to my girls ♥), to realizing that biology wasn’t my path. It all set me up to be me. right now. today. Baylor challenges their students to achieve excellence in the classroom and in character. And character is exactly what I built.
I honestly believe that if I graduated from a different University, my world would be completely different. I originally thought attending Baylor as a student would be glamorous and make for cute pictures at football games with Bruiser. Ha! It’s funny to think about that now. I didn’t have a chance to be as well rounded as I would have liked to be because my entire focus was on my grades as a biology major. And being engulfed in that kind of focus taught me – A LOT. It taught me to follow through, to go out of my comfort zone to ask questions, to do things on my own, to find the answers, to stay committed, and to stay passionate. In order to succeed, I realized that it couldn’t just be my talent. Yes, my talent would give me the grade – I’d pass the class and it would look good on paper. But was that enough? There were internships and fist job positions I had to be competitive for. I needed to be equipped with the right grades and the right attitude for the right opportunity to be presented. These characteristics that I built years ago have stuck with me. I now apply them to my every day life personally and professionally.
And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that talent alone isn’t enough. We all are gifted and equipped with qualities that the next person doesn’t necessarily have. These talents can get us ahead and we should use them to the best of our ability but, it is not the long term solution to success – grit is. Angela’s studies show that “gritty” people who collectively have passion and perseverance are more successful than “non-gritty” people. Talent alone does not make someone gritty. But, someone who has talent and a stimulated growth mindset, has the ability to learn by their efforts. In the professional world, I’ve seen so many people move up by having a good attitude and being coachable. Yes, the degrees and experiences get your foot in the door but, someone who is coachable will go much further than one who stays stagnant in growth with a negative attitude. I encourage you to find your passion and persevere. These two qualities will take you to new heights for a longer period of time in whichever journey you set out for yourself. But, they are qualities that you have to find deep within yourself first.
That burning flame that keeps you going. Passion. Ask yourself – what keeps you going? What value do you add to whatever you do? Do you love what you do enough to stay loyal to it? Do you care enough about it to make a difference? Everything seems to flow easily when you have a passion for what you do. The thought of making a difference, giving back, and being an influence keeps my wheels turning. My passion keeps me curious and wanting to learn more.
Are you consistent? Do you follow through? How bad do you want it? Sticking with your dreams and goals is not always easy. There has to be a motivating factor to continue day in and day out to achieve your goal. Know your WHY. Gritty people don’t give up the first time they fall on their face. Gritty people are disciplined. Gritty people see every “no” as a closed door that will lead them to their perfect “yes.” They are able to withstand rejection and road blocks. They may not always finish first, but they WILL reach the finish line.
I hope you have a chance to check out Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED TALK:
“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.” – Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth