It’s hard to overstate how important grit is to success in life – for kids and adults. People sometimes look at me and think (or say out loud!), “Well, sure you’re successful at fill-in-the-blank. You’re smart or have a Ph.D. or work hard or fill-in-other-attribute.”
Very seldom is GRIT identified as the supposed magic ingredient for my success (however you want to measure that) – but it’s key, and I’ve long realized that it’s the true thing that enables me to do things like get a PhD or run for school board or pursue a career in fiction.
Early on, I decided I wanted to be an astronaut – talk about long-term, impossible goals! I was literally reaching for the stars. It would take many years of effort and probably wouldn’t pay off – but along the way, I knew I’d learn a lot and accomplish a lot, so it was all good. As it turns out, NASA didn’t want me (but I did apply! Twice.) I FAILED! And yet, as disappointing as that was, I had already turned my sights to different goals. And I had learned something tremendously important: that “failure” doesn’t define me, that I’m a finisher (ie I have high levels of grit), and that there was almost nothing I couldn’t learn to do. There may only be a few slots in the astronaut program, but there are infinite slots in life – and I was willing to strive and fail in order to live my life to its fullest.
I was determined to raise my kids to have that kind of resilience/grit as well – something I’m proud to see reflected when my oldest takes maximum advantage of his opportunities at college, my middle son teaches himself some ridiculously difficult concepts “just for fun”, or my youngest persists in the face of serious focus-challenges and succeeds.
“Grit is living life like it’s a marathon not a sprint.”
This latest chapter for me is about taking that deeper and understanding it on a whole new level… but the foundation was laid back when I was peering up at the stars and saying to myself: you should go for that. Even if you fail, it will have been worth the try.