When you are trying something new, you are likely to fail on your way. Repeatedly.
In fact, one thing which separates highly productive creative people from others is just how willing they are to push through the hard times and keep going.
It requires perseverance.
And one of the best ways to explain what it takes to show perseverance is through a mindset known as Grit.
Grit is a mindset with a focus on perseverance and passion for long-term goals, and was popularised through the research of Angela Duckworth and her bestselling book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.
As Angela Duckworth summarises in her popular TED Talk:
Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years. And working really hard to make that future a reality.
According to her research, people who scored highly on grit surveys as adults were likely to have higher educational attainment and fewer job changes. For younger people, grit was related to better grades in school, and with watching less TV. People with higher levels of grit were also less likely to do things just because they were pleasurable, and instead did them because they had meaning or they were engaged in the activities.
Similarily, research also showed that people may have high levels of grit and self-control for a focused goal in their life, but succumb to temptation in other areas of life.
One important learning is that talent alone does not make you have grit. This might be why so many talented people never make the most of their talents. Grit requires people to be actively working and trying to improve over long periods of time, which requires deliberate practice. In fact, children with higher levels of grit can often outperform children who are talented or highly intelligent but with less grit.
Other research also showed that just because children feels passionate about a creative activity, and feel like they are persevering, this does not correlate with them achieving something creative. Apparently, the perception of grit and perseverance in the child by someone external, like a teacher, is more likely to indicate that they will achieve something creative.
When trying to do something creative, people often stop trying to generate new ideas far too early when they get tired, uncomfortable or feel like nothing new is coming. This is where grit can be invaluable, to push that little bit further when research shows you are likely to have your most creative ideas.
So what can we do in order to develop grit, especially when someone is young?
Duckworth notes that one of the best ways is likely to help the children develop a Growth Mindset.
If children are taught that they have the potential to grow, even if (and especially when) they experience challenges, then they will be more willing to push further when they experience those challenges.
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