Book Review: GRIT – Growing grit from outside in (Part 3)

Drawing from Part 1 and Part 2, I’ve presented a case for why grit is important in helping us realize our potential and how as individuals we can play a critical role in developing grit in ourselves. However, as alluded to earlier, there is the place of the society in nurturing grit in others and supporting them realize their aspirations through grit. In Angela Duckworth’s book, she argues for complimentary ingredients from the society that contribute to our grit i.e.,

  • Parenting – writing as a parent she reflects on her journey raising her daughters and the nature of activities she exposes them to and draws on interviews with other parents where she acknowledges that parenting is critical in nurturing gritty people. Question is how? She presents a case for parents to understand their children and adopt a balance in the parenting matrix that covers for permissive parenting, neglectful parenting, authoritarian parenting and wise parenting which she recommends graded on a scale of level of support and demand on children. Reflecting on this and acknowledging the critical role of parents as the first individuals we come into contact with in life and who help us make sense of our world, they have a substantial role in molding us. How parents nurture children determine how they interact with the world and how they take advantage of the opportunities as well as deal with obstacles in their paths. In parenting, it is about letting them experience some level of hardship but always being there to guide them when they are ultimately stuck. I’ll be writing the next article on this drawing from a question I got asked last week.
  • Playing fields of Grit – In order to develop grit, in Part 2 I presented a case for practice as argued for by Angela Duckworth in her book. Drawing on this, it is critical to acknowledge that for consistent, deliberate and impactful practice there is need for discipline, order and coaching. On this account, Angela argues that parents need to get their children to activities that require high levels of discipline, commitment and obedience to ensure they develop their perseverance. The same applies for adults who would want to gain mastery in certain skills, you have to get into a field where there are rules and be disciplined enough to follow through. Some of the fields she argues for include ballet recitals, dojo, basketball etc. Being engaging activities one builds the perseverance and follow through needed to be gritty. The transferable skills gained such as discipline may be used in other fields even if not for the particular training.
  • Culture of Grit – Finally, in arguing for the role of the society in nurturing gritty people, culture is at the center of it all. Considering grit is about resilience and perseverance, the dedicated follow-through in a task towards the realization a particular outcome, the environment in which we operate determines whether we become gritty. Using examples from sports teams, the culture adopted in the respective teams embody a level of commitment, a sense of identity and commitment to excellence which enables individuals succeed in their pursuits in the respective fields. I believe the same applies for companies as she narrates reflecting on the leadership of Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase CEO. It is about creating a culture where individuals want to be better than they were yesterday, have a purpose in what they do and commit to the success of the organization by working towards it.

Having grit doesn’t translate to not failing but having the confidence and courage to pick yourself up when you fall. In conclusion, she draws from a statement from her father; “You are no genius”, and confirms that “if we define genius as being able to accomplish great things in life without effort, then he was right: I’m no genius, and neither is he. But if instead, we define genius as working towards excellence, ceaselessly, with every element of your being – then in deed my dad is a genius, and so am I, and so is Coates, and, if you’re willing, so are you.”

I hope we pursue excellence with unwavering commitment and dedication until we achieve all that we wish for, and as we do this may we create an enabling environment for others to follow through on their pursuits.

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