Channel 4 recently showed a ravishing documentary called, The Secret Life of 4Year Olds. Basically, 10 4-year olds were left to get on with it in a nursery/reception rigged with cameras and their behavior was analysed by child psychologists.
The traits on display included:
Half the 4-year olds were male, half female, mostly white – there were two mixed race kids (one black+white, Skyla, and the other white+oriental, Jayda), there was one black person, a boy called Christian – he was the one who was said by the psychologists to have grit in “ample supply”.
The children were split into two teams, dominant and less dominant, and asked to build a den; this task involved team-work, a very hard ask at that age.
The less dominant personalities were able to work together and build the den within the required amount of time; unable to reach agreement, the dominant children failed to work together, lost interest and their den wasn’t build.
The teachers awarded the less dominant team the “winners” and asked the dominant kids how they felt about that. They obviously weren’t happy but got over it and went on to play. Christian (in the dominant team) admitted that he was “sad” about the loss, however, instead of just giving up he asked Chaim another dominant kid (and a bit of a bully) to help him finish the dominant team’s den. Chaim refused so Christian went on to do it himself and finished although, by his own admission, it was very hard to do on his own.
He didn’t do it for any award, he knew the other team had already won but he went on to do it anyway to overcome his sadness and perhaps feel a sense of completion. I’m not going to lie, I was super impressed: he was exactly the sort of child everyone hopes to have, very methodical, he played well with others but it’s his grit that I will focus on.
What is Grit?
Grit is stamina and sticking to your goals with passion and perseverance for long periods of time, no matter what. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon not a sprint.
According to Wikipedia, “Grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual's passion for a particular long-term goal or endstate, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie within a gritty individual’s path to accomplishment, and serves as a driving force in achievement realization.”
Grit has been studied very widely by psychologists and studies suggest that people with grit are more successful because they’re unfazed by stumbling blocks. For lack of a better phrase they just get sh*t done come hell or high water.
Watch this TED talk on Grit:
If you don’t have grit you’re much less likely to reach your end goal – you lose interest and give up or you are easily put off by small setbacks. If you work on something long enough, that is, if you really commit – you will get there. You will live the life you want and achieve the type of success you desire.
You can’t improve your IQ by much but you can work on improving grit, especially if you’re young. Importantly, if you have kids you can literally revolutionalise their future by working on their grit. You can make them grittier by allowing them to fail and letting them understand that the failure or setback is transitory – it’s neither fixed nor permanent. Also, praise them for struggling through hard tasks.
Do you have grit? Would you like to improve your grit and your ability to persevere towards a goal? That’s what I teach in the “Success” module of The Money Spot Program.
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Heather on Wealth
I enjoy helping people think through their personal finances and blog about that here. Join my personal finance community at The Money Spot™.