Thursday, October 27, 2005

How to Create True Grit - Optimism, Perseverance and Self-discipline - in Yourself

How to Develop More Grit!

Grit is a combination of self-discipline, perseverance and optimism. It has been shown in studies to be highly related to success in marriage, work, home, and school.
Most experts believe that grit can be taught, learned and developed given the right conditions. This is based on the fact that similar traits such as motivation, self-discipline, and optimism are all traits that can be nurtured and strengthened.
So here are some steps you can take to reinforce and strengthen your inner supply of grit.

First, teach people to handle and learn from failure. From Ben Franklin to Steve Jobs to Da Vinci, every successful person has failed repeatedly in their lives. It is essential for all of us to understand that failure is just delayed success. We must learn early on in life to deal with the negative emotions that go hand in hand with setbacks, losses and failures. They are part and parcel of life. We have to learn appropriate coping strategies such as distancing yourself from the loss, understanding what you can and cannot control, deep breathing and journaling to get rid of negative emotions.

My eight year old son had to learn this lesson this year with his soccer team. With one weekend left in the season, his soccer team has only won one or two games. So there have been many chances to learn to deal with losing. And I believe that the lesson he was supposed to learn this season was how to lose gracefully. At the beginning of the season, he was so frustrated at himself and his teammates that he wanted to quit, he didn’t want to go to practice, and he was crushed with each loss. Every game threatened to ruin his mood for the day. My wife and I kept talking to him and teaching him different tools to deal with the frustration. You know, if you throw enough food against the wall, some of it’s bound to stick! A few weeks ago, he had learned how to emotionally distance himself from the outcome of the game. He still played his heart out. But he learned that the outcome of the game did not rest solely on his shoulders. He also learned that the outcome isn’t necessarily a reflection of his worth as a person. And after a recent loss, he came off the field, looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Oh well, it’s only a game.”
Next, learn to be realistically optimistic. Recent research by Martin Seligman has shown a link between optimism and grit. It makes sense. It’s hard to set long-term goals and persevere without having a positive outlook. If you’re a pessimist, what’s the point of long-term goals, in your mind, you will think that you’ll only fail to reach them. I’ve spoken at length about optimism on this show, so I’m not going to spend much time on it here.

Also, you want to find what make you passionate, what make you come alive, what gets your blood moving. Find out what you LOVE to do and pursue it with zeal. Help your kids identify their passions. Expose them to a number of different activities so they can discover what they love to do. Every successful athlete has to be self-motivated. They must be passionate about what they do. As a parent, you can’t force them.

Don’t worry so much about balance. We cannot excel in every area of life. There is simply not enough time. So if your child is passionate about baseball and is average in school, that’s okay. As long as they have something about which they feel passionately, they’ll be okay. People who are highly successful tend to overfocus in one area, oftentimes leaving other areas of their life out of balance. That’s okay.
Teach your kids how to receive criticism. By teaching them how to receive and give constructive suggestions, it allows them to learn quickly without popping the bubble of their enthusiasm. Use the sandwich theory. A compliment followed by a suggestion to improve, followed by another compliment. Bread, meat, bread. Compliment, suggestion, compliment. Sandwich theory.

Model your grittiness for your children. Children learn best from what you DO, not what you say. Show them how to persevere. Share your optimism with them. Let them know of your long-term goals. Most importantly, praise their EFFORTS, not their outcomes. As long as you focus on how hard they are trying, you’ll be fine. As soon as you focus on the outcomes, such as win versus loss, or grades, you send the message that your love for them is dependent upon their results. This is not the message you want to send. For instance, when you compliment a child’s intelligence (Oh, how smart you are!), and they fail, they think they are no longer smart, and then they lose interest in the task.

On the other hand, children complimented for their effort (time spent preparing, energy expended in the game) show no negative effects and are even energized in the face of a challenge. Praise effort over ability. Praise effort over results.

To recap, you can build more grit in your self and your loved ones by
Finding our own passion
Helping others find their passion,
Letting go of the need for balance,
Learning to be more realistically optimistic,
Modeling your grit for others,
Learning how to best handle failure and
Understanding how to offer and receive constructive criticism.
So remember, grit is a combination of perseverance, optimism and passion. Get your grit going now to ensure your success in life.

Guide To Self and KDIA need your help. We are looking for donations to help out Bernard. Bernard lost his dentures in the hurricane. And it’s much easier to get hired when you have your choppers. We are helping Bernard by paying the lab bill for his dentures which will be $600. My daughter’s Girl Scout troop raised nearly $100 for the cause. My father, Dr. Donald Schinnerer, is kindly doing the dental work for free. We just need to pay materials. We only need another $200. Please send your donation now in check or money order to KDIA, c/o Dr. John, 3260 Blume Dr., #520, Richmond 94806.

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