Grit can be described as a combination self-discipline and perseverance with optimism. Studies have shown that grit is strongly linked to success at work, home, school, and marriage. Experts believe that it is possible to learn, develop and teach grit under the right conditions. This belief is based on the idea that similar traits like motivation, self-discipline and optimism can all be nurtured and strengthened.
So here are some steps you can take to reinforce and strengthen your inner supply of grit.
Learn from failure
Teach people how to deal with failure and how to learn from it. Every successful person, from Ben Franklin to Steve Jobs and Da Vinci has experienced failures throughout their lives. It is essential for all of us to understand that failure is just delayed success. It is important to learn how to handle the negative emotions associated with failures, setbacks and losses early in our lives. You have to learn appropriate coping strategies such as distancing yourself from the loss, understanding what you can and cannot control, deep breathing and journaling to get rid of negative emotions.
Read also: How to Treat Performance Anxiety in Athletes
My eight year old son had to learn this lesson this year with his soccer team. With one weekend left in the season, his soccer team has only won one or two games. So there have been many chances to learn to deal with losing. And I believe that the lesson he was supposed to learn this season was how to lose gracefully. At the beginning of the season, he was so frustrated at himself and his teammates that he wanted to quit, he didn’t want to go to practice, and he was crushed with each loss. Every game threatened to ruin his mood for the day.
My wife and I kept talking to him and teaching him different tools to deal with the frustration. You know, if you throw enough food against the wall, some of it’s bound to stick! A few weeks ago, he had learned how to emotionally distance himself from the outcome of the game. He still played his heart out. But he learned that the outcome of the game did not rest solely on his shoulders. He also learned that the outcome isn’t necessarily a reflection of his worth as a person. And after a recent loss, he came off the field, looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Oh well, it’s only a game.”
Next, learn to be realistically optimistic. Recent research by Martin Seligman has shown a link between optimism and grit. It makes sense. It’s hard to set long-term goals and persevere without having a positive outlook. If you’re a pessimist, what’s the point of long-term goals, in your mind, you will think that you’ll only fail to reach them. I’ve spoken at length about optimism earlier, so I’m not going to spend much time on it here.
You want to discover what makes you happy, what makes you feel alive, and what keeps your blood pumping. Find what you love to do and follow it with passion. Your children should be able to identify their passions. You should expose them to many different activities to help them discover their passions. A successful athlete must be self-motivated. They should be passionate about what their do. You can’t force your child to do something.
Read also: Being Happy With The Simple Things In Life
Don’t worry about balance
Don’t worry too much about balance. It is impossible to excel in all areas of life. There’s simply not enough time. It doesn’t matter if your child loves baseball but is not good at school. They’ll be fine as long as they are passionate about something. Highly successful people tend to be focused on one thing and leave other areas of life unbalanced. That’s okay.
Teach your kids how to receive criticism. By teaching them how to receive and give constructive suggestions, it allows them to learn quickly without popping the bubble of their enthusiasm. Use the sandwich theory. A compliment followed by a suggestion to improve, followed by another compliment. Bread, meat, bread. Compliment, suggestion, compliment. Sandwich theory.
Model your grittiness for your children
Children learn best from what you DO, not what you say. Show them how to persevere. Share your optimism with them. Let them know of your long-term goals. Most importantly, praise their EFFORTS, not their outcomes. As long as you focus on how hard they are trying, you’ll be fine. As soon as you focus on the outcomes, such as win versus loss, or grades, you send the message that your love for them is dependent upon their results. This is not the message you want to send. For instance, when you compliment a child’s intelligence (Oh, how smart you are!), and they fail, they think they are no longer smart, and then they lose interest in the task.
On the other hand, children complimented for their effort (time spent preparing, energy expended in the game) show no negative effects and are even energized in the face of a challenge. Praise effort over ability. Praise effort over results.
To recap, you can build more grit in your self and your loved ones by
- Finding our own passion
- Helping others find their passion
- Letting go of the need for balance
- Learning to be more realistically optimistic
- Modeling your grit for others
- Learning how to best handle failure and
- Understanding how to offer and receive constructive criticism.
So remember, grit is a combination of perseverance, optimism and passion. Get your grit going now to ensure your success in life.