Want Your Kids to Succeed in School and Life? Science Says to Instill This 1 Thing Above All Else
by Melanie Curtin, Inc. Magazine, 10/23/17.
As she (Angela Lee Duckworth) explained in her TED talk, the research question was always the same: “Who is successful here, and why?”
As it turned out, there was an answer. One trait rose above all others. In contexts as disparate as West Point, the National Spelling Bee, private companies, and low-income schools, the one characteristic that emerged as highly predictive of success wasn’t IQ. It wasn’t social intelligence, nor was it good looks, physical health, or socioeconomic status.
What was it?
As Duckworth defines it, grit is, “passion and perseverance for long-term projects; having stamina; sticking with your future, day in, day out … and working really hard to make that future a reality.” (my emphasis)
How do you instill grit?
According to Duckworth, part of the answer lies in establishing a “growth mindset.”
Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University came up with this concept, and it’s basically the belief that you can improve your ability to learn–that it’s not fixed. Thus instead of “I’m smart” or, “I’m dumb,” (fixed states), it’s, “When I’m challenged, I get stronger.”
The reason this matters is that if a kid believes they’re “dumb” because, say, they got a wrong answer, they tend to stop trying. They become afraid of failing. But when kids in Dweck’s research studies read and learn about the brain (particularly how it grows in response to challenge), they become more brave, more resilient, more likely to try even harder things, more … gritty.
Why? Because they start to see that simply doing the hard thing helps them expand. That it doesn’t matter whether you get the answer right–it just matters that you try, and keep trying.
It’s a lesson we can all take to heart, especially since grit research showed something else totally fascinating: there is no relationship or an inverse relationship between grit and talent. Hang on and make sure you got that last part — inverse means the less talented you are, the more gritty you are likely to be … which may be exactly what leads to your success.
In other words, data backs up the fact that you truly don’t have to be the best in the class, or get into the most prestigious tech accelerator, or be the most talented graphic designer at your firm to succeed.