There is some fascinating research out there by University of Pennsylvania professor Angela Duckworth. Duckworth has found that something other than talent, IQ and social intelligence is the best predictor of success for groups as varied as marines, Chicago Public School students and sales people. What is this secret ingredient? It is called “grit”. Grit is defined as the ability to persist, stick with long-term goals and keep going even in the midst of setbacks. Duckworth even has a grit test that you can take in 5 minutes.
So, what does grit have to do with us as fathers? Everything. The biggest thing we can do for our children is to model grit in our own lives. Do we have long-term goals that we are working on? We need to share those goals with our kids and more importantly share the ups and downs along the way with our kids. Our kids need to see us deal with disappointment and bounce back. They need to see us persist in the face of obstacles, while we keep our eye on the prize.
As your kids reach their teen years, they are old enough to understand concepts like goals and perseverance. After they have watched you show grit, encourage them to set goals and then help them stay with those goals. The two biggest enemies of grit are immediate gratification and perfectionism. Immediate gratification means I expect a positive result right away or things are not worth doing. Perfectionism means I cannot accept anything less than a superior performance or grade. If I get something less, then it must have been stupid or time to move onto the next thing.
Grit says the time of disappointment is not the time to run away. It is the time to dig in and grow. Duckworth references the work of Carol Dweck and her “growth mindset" as the best antidote to a person not showing grit.
Fathers, let’s model “grit” for our kids and then help them to develop “grit” and become successful adults.« Back to Blog