Children are resilient and approach life with ‘grit’ – but what about adults, is it too late for us to be gritty?

So what is ‘grit’? Grit is defined as passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. It requires stamina and a willingness to fail, be wrong, and start again with the lessons learnt. You can see grit in action when you watch a child attempt to ride a bike for the first time, learn to read or practice their ABCs.

Having grit is tied to having what’s called a growth mindset. This refers to the idea that intelligence, like any skill, is not fixed but can be developed. Intelligence or talent is something that can be learned and developed – it’s not a case of you either have it or you don’t.

Intelligence isn’t necessarily achieving an Einstein understanding of physics – your talent can be from any field, in any area of your life. It’s a goal that you will have the perseverance, passion and effort to keep chipping away at, whether that be mastering maths or mastering the piano.

In short, with grit and a growth mindset, you’re aware that your ability is not fixed, perseverance is the key, and failure is a speed bump, not a road block.

So, how do you develop a growth mindset? Some things you can try to make your life a little grittier:

  • Add ‘yet’ when you’re talking about your goal. “I can’t play the piano” becomes “I can’t play the piano, yet”. By adding ‘yet’, you are demonstrating your own learning curve, reminding yourself that you’re on a path to achieving your goal.
  • Embrace challenges and see them as opportunities. Some days are smoother than others. When unexpected things pop up and your plans go awry, keep at it – these obstacles are an opportunity to try new things and test yourself in uncharted waters.
  • Learn from criticism. this one can be hard, as not many people love hearing bad things about themselves. But constructive criticism helps you identify your strengths as well as your weaknesses – and it may provide a new perspective on an obstacle that’s eluding you.
  • Celebrate other people’s wins. If your training partner is hitting 200kg deadlifts and you’re not there yet - celebrate their success! Find inspiration and learnings in the success of others. It keeps you engaged, focussed and fixes your eyes on the prize!
  • Try swapping ‘failing’ for ‘learning’. When you’ve made a mistake or fallen short of a goal, you haven’t failed; you’ve learned. It’s okay if it doesn’t work out, outcomes are important, but not the deciding factor – praise the process and strategies learnt.
  • Make a new goal for every goal accomplished. this way, the learning never stops. Creating new goals will keep you stimulated and help you stay curious.

When you’re gritty, you’re living life like it’s a marathon - or even an obstacle course - not a sprint. There’s no real ‘end point’ as each goal you achieve continues you on a path to your next goal.

Related reading: Why it's so important children are both seen and heard

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