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Along The Path

Along the Path is a newsletter created by Coach Marlene Boas, Ph.D., BCC
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“You have a choice. You can throw in the towel,
or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face.”

Can grit trump genius?

Do you feel your success is limited to some degree by your intelligence or natural abilities in math, music, sports, art, science ....?  Do you think the success of others is due mostly to their innate abilities?

Most of us believe that to some extent.  When we see genius at work we often refer to it as a "gift" that was endowed from on high.  But is that true? Could it be intelligence and talent are overrated?  Perhaps Thomas Edison's illuminations go far beyond the light bulb with his oft quoted  "genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration".

According to some pretty robust research done at the University of Pennsylvania by Angela Duckworth,  "grit" is a better indicator of success than IQ, talent, or luck. Grit is mental toughness, the ability to tirelessly move through failures and keep driving towards a goal regardless of the challenges faced along the way.  It's more than self discipline, which is like a sprint compared to grit's marathon quality.  Grit also rises from an internal wellspring of passion.  People who are really gritty are driven by their own energy and need very little external praise or motivation.  

Wonder how gritty you are? There are free online assessments from Duckworth's lab.
The good news is you can develop more grit in yourself and kids. First it's important to adopt a "growth mindset".  That's an understanding and belief that our brains are malleable and our intelligence, talents, and skills can be developed through deliberate practice: regular, ongoing, and increasingly challenging practice.  Although it's hard, persevering when things gets tough is where grittiness grows. Make it a habit.

Another necessary ingredient for getting really gritty, is increasing our frustration tolerance.  All too often the frustration wins out and we surrender and quit.  That's an antidote to grit!   Whenever we're frustrated we're usually pretty close to overcoming whatever is at the core if we just hang in there.  Frustration often surfaces right on the threshold of a breakthrough.  It's good to take a break, walk away, go on to something else for a while but come back and face the challenge head on.  You'll be glad you did.

Viewing failures and frustration as fertilizer for growth can also help us reframe what sometimes makes us throw in the towel.  Edison was relentless while he was inventing the light bulb and plowed through with his philosophy , "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work".  Recognizing failure is an essential part of progress helps strengthens our tenacity. 
- How might your life be better if you were grittier?
- Can you recall a time when your mental toughness paid off?
- What small thing can you do today to build your grittiness?
- How can you improve your relationship with "failure" and "frustration"?

Hang in there! You can do it. 

Contact me if you need some grit coaching.


Spring Clean Your Life - March 2015
Hold 'em or fold 'em - Feb 2015
Kind vs Nice  - Jan 2015
Managing Expectations December 2014 
Gratitude - November 2014
October - Who's Calling?
September - Note to Self
August 2014 - Lost in Translation
Copyright © 2014, Marlene Boas, All rights reserved.

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