Growing up, I always believed that attaining higher education and possessing an above-average IQ were strong indicators of success. I believed that a class schedule full of AP classes would lead to a top-rated university, which in turn would lead to a life of prosperity and achievement. Study hard, work hard, and all that you dream of will come true.
The reality is that’s not always the case.
While it’s true that some people with fancy degrees go on to live highly successful lives, I have a strong suspicion that there is more to their success than outward accolades. According to Angela Duckworth, author of the best-selling book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, the best indicator of future earnings and happiness has nothing to do with book smarts, talent, or a high IQ. The most important factor that can help someone live a life of happiness and success is grit.
What is grit?
Duckworth describes grit as a passion and perseverance for attaining long-term goals and actually following through on them. Those with grit are often described as having a strong sense of character and possessing a resilience that helps them bounce back from tough situations.
According to author Angela Duckworth, the best indicator of future earnings and happiness has nothing to do with book smarts, talent, or a high IQ. The most important factor that can help someone live a life of happiness and success is grit.
You don’t learn how to bounce back from tough situations in school. Dealing with the dark side of life is not on any syllabus or curriculum when paving one’s way into adulthood. However, I believe that it’s a crucial characteristic to cultivate, even from a young age.
I don’t know what the future will hold for my children. Perhaps my daughter will want to become a doctor or a painter. Maybe my son will want to become a fashion designer or an architect. What I do know for sure is that no matter how far they rise, life is going to inevitably knock them down. No matter how hard they work, how good of people they become, or how much they care for themselves or others, life will throw them obstacles that may seem impossible to overcome.
It happens to all of us. It’s happened to me multiple times.
And when life knocks me down, I have a tendency to let it keep me there. I succumb to the negativity and the belief that my setbacks are a place of residence, not reference. Often times, I forget that I’m the author of my own life and I can proactively write my chapters any way I choose.
So, I want to hand each of my children their own pen and paper and remind them to be proactive in life, not reactive like their mom.
I want to teach them how to rise up when everything around them seems to be falling apart. This, I’ve learned through my many decades of life, is the key ingredient to happiness and success. Certain emotional stamina that will constructively guide you through all of the ups and downs of life.
Here are some simple ways that I’m trying to instill grit into my children’s lives:
I remind them to find value in the valley
Life is a series of peaks and valleys; you can’t reach the peaks without going through the valleys. While it’s Instagram-worthy to show off our peak seasons, finding value when we are in the valley can be beneficial to the growth of our souls. Although my children are young and their setbacks may seem trivial in comparison, to them those valleys are just as Earth-shattering as anything else.
I try not to brush off their struggles or tell them to get over it. I try my best to listen and let them know that it’s OK to be sad. It’s OK to feel negative emotions, but it’s important to be mindful of their lessons and use them for future growth.
I encourage their passions
My kids are passionate about a lot of things, so it’s impossible to pursue everything they show an interest in. However, I try my best to encourage their sense of development and curiosity for one or two interests at any given time. Fostering motivation for things that they are passionate about will also help them mirror those same feelings for things that they are not so passionate about, like math.
Don’t quit, just take a break
It’s easy to stick with things we are already good at, and all too easy to quit things we are not so good at. I remind my children that there is no such thing as perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist. When we are not good at something, like learning an instrument or a new language, the easiest thing to do is to quit. But how will we ever grow in life if we don’t take on new challenges or get out of our comfort zone?
I’ve learned this the hard way, but when I’m feeling overwhelmed or like I can’t go on, instead of quitting (like I used to do), I simply take a break. I let my mind recalibrate and my emotions settle back down, and then I’m back in action! When my children are playing a game or practicing their violins and I hear words of discouragement, my son will breathe in-and-out and whisper, “Don’t quit, just take a break!”
What things do you do to develop grit in yourself and your children?