Is there any association between a person’s growth mindset and grit? I decided to do some research into this topic, as an educator, I was curious about them. I wanted to understand the distinctive relationship of a growth mindset and grit to better nurture my students in their learning.
How does growth mindset relate to grit? Grit is a trait that can be found in a person with a growth mindset. A person with grit is known to be tenacious, which is the ability to persevere and try with greater effort, as required. This behavior found in people with grit is a pivotal aspect of a growth mindset. It builds a person’s ability to grow.
To understand the relationship of growth mindset and grit in detail, you will need to first look at grit.
By learning the definition of grit and ways to identify it, you can know if you or your students have grit. Then, we will explore if grit can be improved, and the ways it can be developed. At the end of the article, we will examine the impact of an improved grit on the growth mindset.
Definition of Grit
In a nutshell, grit means tenacity. This trait defines a tenacious individual that is passionate and able to persevere while working towards a goal. However, grit is a trait that is difficult to define.
Another definition of grit from the Oxford Dictionaries is “Courage and resolve: strength of character”.
A popularized definition of grit by Duckworth characterizes grit around a set of characteristics. Among these characteristics, Duckworth defined grit around 5 most important characteristics. Next, we will look at Duckworth top 5 characteristics that defines someone with grit.
Characteristics of Grit
As mentioned, these are the top 5 characteristics that Duckworth believes can be used to identify someone with grit. They are courage, conscientiousness, long-term goal oriented, resilience, and excellence.
The characteristic of courage is about a person’s ability to manage the fear of failure. When facing with a new challenge, will you be able to manage your fear of failing and attempt it? This relates to your ability to set aside your fears and try something beyond your ability. The courage to get started on new challenges.
Further do you have the courage to stick with a challenge when it gets difficult. Would you be defeated by the challenge or able to withstand the stress, and persevere through it? Even after courageously trying and failing, are you able to take from failure valuable lessons?
These are the characteristic of courage. The ability to manage your fear, start something new, stick with it, and gain something from it regardless of success or failure.
A great advice of Eleanor Roosevelt – “Do something that scares you everyday.” Following this advice, you will likely build up your courage and grit.
The characteristic of conscientiousness is about being achievement oriented and dependable. That means you can be relied upon to get the job completed.
People who are achievement oriented are self-controlled. They will be able to get themselves to work towards their goals. As they are achievement oriented, they are also dependable to complete their jobs.
Together, these aspects of conscientiousness define someone with grit.
Long-term Goals and Endurance
Life is a not a sprint, it is a marathon. That means we will need to think long-term and have the endurance to stick with our goals.
This is a characteristic of people with grit. The ability to run with life’s marathon. Able to set their own long-term plans, work on them, and eventually see them to completion.
Simply, to have grit is to follow through on your goals.
When doing anything challenging, things never always go smoothly. There are bound to be obstacles along the way to your goals. You will need to be resilient to endure these obstacles.
Staying optimistic, confident and creative will demonstrate your resilience in the face of difficulties. With these attitudes, you are likely to overcome these difficulties. Else, if you failed, you will have the proper frame of mind to accept it and move on.
Excellence vs. Perfection
It is a subtle difference between excellence and perfection. And, people with grit will always aim for excellence rather than perfection. This is because perfection is a more absolute outcome of someone’s perception and might not be attainable.
In contrast, excellence is about doing one’s best. For a gritty person, it will be about putting their fullest effort into reaching the goal. The outcome of the goal need not be completed in a specifically perfect manner.
What counts in excellence is the effort of doing it well to reach the goal.
Can Grit Be Improved?
In short, yes! You can improve your grit overtime.
Grit is any skills, you can create practices to improve your grit. For example, you can try to work on a difficult task consistently daily. This may be your weak subjects in your studies or a complicated work project. Working at something you find challenging daily will prime your mind to persevere.
As you do daily practice to train your grit, you will increase your capacity to attempt something and stick with it in future. Soon, you will demonstrate greater grit.
Likewise, if you are a teacher, you might want to improve grit among your students. You can take the same approach of creating a daily practice that trains grit. This daily practice can be a challenging task for your students. Encourage your students to attempt and set a fixed amount of time for them to try it themselves. This gives your students the time to develop the necessary characteristics of grit through the daily practice.
Do remember that improving grit is like any skills, it will take time to improve. You should give yourself time before seeing improvement in your grit.
For teachers, each individual student will take different time to start showing improvement in grit. You will have to be patient and continue to provide a daily practice for them to work on.
Tips to Develop Grit
Here are 5 tips to develop your grit (Adapted from Chopra):
- Focus on language used
- For teachers, we have an article on using the appropriate language in the classroom in relation to growth mindset, which you can read it here.
- A positive mind
- Be flexible
- Have meaningful goals
- Reflect and adjust your effort
Relating Improved Grit and Growth Mindset
After developing a deeper understanding of grit, you might still wonder how improving your grit can be related to your growth mindset? Remember that grit is a trait defined by a set of characteristics. These characteristics can be found in growth mindset as well.
It is also common for someone with grit to have a growth mindset. However, growth mindset is a broader idea that surrounds one’s perspective. We have a detailed article on growth mindset to explain.
In conclusion, you can see grit as part of a growth mindset. By improving your grit, you can also improve your growth mindset.
What are the benefits of having a growth mindset? A growth mindset leads to better achievement and more resilient perspective in life. In school, teachers that nurture a growth mindset in their students tend to see higher learning outcomes, as their students are willing to put more effort and time to study.
How does mindset affect learning? Mindset affects the perspective of a person. There are two school of thought with regards to learning mindset. They are the growth and fixed mindsets. It is believed that the growth mindset is more beneficial for learning. Its perspective on learning foster the improvement by effort. Generally, the increased effort put in by students with a growth mindset leads to better learning.
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