There was a good bit I liked about this book, but ultimately I’m still left with questions about whether I fully agree with the book’s premise.
Which is that grit is made up of both passion and perseverance.
It’s not just pressing on, or keeping going: it’s doing all of that in an area (or with a goal) which is single minded.
There’s a test you can take within the book – questions which give you a rating out of 5 for both passion and perseverance.
I got a 3.6 on passion and a 4.6 on perseverance, which made sense to me.
One of my skills in life is just. keeping. going.
And I’ve been thinking lately about whether I do that too long. Whether I keep going sometimes in multiple areas, instead of single mindedly in one area, with one goal, and whether that holds me back.
It was also challenging how focused this book is on outward accomplishments. Things easy to track. A person who graduated from university, won an award, got noticed, broke a record.
“I think one top level professional goal, rather than any other number, is ideal,” she says.
This all makes sense, practically – the tangible is easier to track and rate and fit into the “Grit Scale” than the intangible – but I’ve also been thinking about those intangibles.
Whose life, or lives, have I impacted for good?
How is my little corner of the world better because of what I’ve done and continued to do? I
don’t diminish some of my accomplishments, but a lot of my achievements are small. Noticed by only one person, perhaps. Not “success” the way the rest of the world might automatically consider it – in terms of fame or praise or money or a social media fandom.
I did appreciate the recognition in the book for a wine critic who said, “I’m not a brain surgeon. I’m not curing cancer. But in this one small way, I think I’m going to make the world better.” Antonio Galloni is on a “mission to help people understand their own palates”. He says when he helps people with that, a lightbulb goes off, and he wants many many light bulbs to go off for many people.
There’s an emotional level of grit, too: and that one is just perseverance. There’s little to no passion except to “get out of this hole I’m in” – whether it’s an injury or a broken friendship or a lost relationship or something which has brought you down. None of that is dealt with in this book, and a lot of that is what I’ve been working through in the past four to five years especially.
“Grit grows as we figure out our life philosophy, learn to dust ourselves off after rejection and disappointment, and learn to tell the difference between low level goals that should be abandoned quickly and higher level goals that demand more tenacity.”
At first I thought well, maybe I haven’t completely “figured out my life philosophy” yet.
But the more I read about her version of grit, and thought about mine, the more I feel like my version is less about having the one goal, the one philosophy, the one focus figured out: and more about being gritty with what you are doing. With what is in front of you. With what you happen to care about right now – whether that’s today or for six months or for twenty two years.
There’s a Finnish concept she mentions called “sisu”, which she says is their closest word to grit, but in her mind isn’t quite the same thing. In Duckworth’s definition, grit specifies having a passion to accomplish a particular top level goal and the perseverance to follow through, whereas sisu is “really just about perseverance”. An inner strength.
Now that, I relate to.
I think that’s the connection I have with the word grit and the concept of it which I came into this book with…and which I’ll still come out of it with, too.
For me, grit is more about the perseverance than the passion. I get it: and those who have the outward displays of success like the Olympic medals and the millions and the films often do so because of a single minded purpose which is combined with perseverance.
But if most of what I’ve got is perseverance, to me that’s worth a great deal.
And for me the passion aspect has to do with positivity. Choosing hope.
“Grit depends on a different kind of hope. It rests on the expectation that our own efforts can improve our future. ‘I have a feeling tomorrow will be better’ is different from ‘I resolve to make tomorrow better.’ The hope that gritty people have has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with getting up again.”
There’s a film I saw recently where a mum dropped her child off at school, and as they each dashed off to their respective days, the mum shouted (and the inference was she did this every day), “Make it a great day!”
That’s what I’ve been working on lately. Not just having a great day, or achieving something, or keeping going: but doing absolutely everything in my power to MAKE the day great.
Attitude is everything. It changes a frustrating day into a good one; a discouraging outcome into an opportunity.
Maybe that’s what grit is for me: positivity plus perseverance.
I’m going to keep going, and I’m going to choose a positive outlook as I go.