Why are we better at things we naturally enjoy doing? It’s a simple question but understanding this will help you become better at things and enjoy them more, and it will help you improve your grit. As with most things in skills-building, it’s a practice that gets better the more you do it, but the special bonus here is the more you do it, the happier you’ll be at this practice — it becomes an effortless feedback loop with inherent rewards.
I’m sure you’ve tried many sports. Some sports were fun to play, others were not to your taste. I bet that in sports that you enjoyed, you dedicated more time to practice, put in the work, and overcame obstacles; boring sports were a dread to play, and you were likely not progressing as fast as the kids who enjoyed it. Why is that? Because when you are not enjoying the game and don’t have a long-term dream of getting better, it is very hard to force yourself to put in the time and the effort; it is also much harder to stay motivated when you hit obstacles.
Take Kobe Bryant, a famous NBA player, who won so many awards during his career that this article would be twice as long if I were to list them. His work ethic and dedication were legendary. One thing you may not know is that when he started playing basketball at a summer camp at the age of twelve, he never scored a single point. Here is what Kobe had to say about passion: “I started realizing that… maybe I don’t like certain types of recreation, but I do like this or that. So, I just started focusing on the things that I enjoyed, and luckily some of those things had some form of competitive aspect behind them … My advice to anyone reading this is to just go all-in with the things that spark a light in your eyes.”
You have probably heard of grit. Everyone says grit is good. What is grit? Grit is a drive to get things done and not give up. More formally, grit is an ability to work persistently toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest despite failure and plateaus.
What separates Grit from Perseverance? The answer is – Passion. With perseverance, we work really really hard to overcome obstacles on the way to a goal. But, without being interested in the task itself or in the long-term goal, perseverance becomes dreadfully tedious over time. It helps to be enthusiastic about what you do. Passion is the guiding compass that allows you to deal with setbacks when things get hard and maintain motivation. When you are passionate about something, you are doing it for yourself (not for your family, teachers, or friends); you are personally vested.
How does one grow grit? Grit stems from trying things, often for fun and without external pressure, starting at an appropriate competency level, and having mentors and personal connections who help you to master the task by offering helpful feedback and supporting you emotionally when things don’t go well. The only way to develop passion is to not be afraid of mistakes, because one can never push oneself without making mistakes. Kobe Bryant said, “If you’re afraid to fail, then you’re probably going to fail.” When you view mistakes as a stepping stone on a path to growth, it is easier to embrace them as a way to build competency rather than a personal failure.
GRIT / TRY THIS
Talent: Think of what you are good at and write those things down (or use the Personal Myth Creation to list out the skills you want to build)
Passion: Of those things you are good at, think of things that spark a light in your eyes using Kobe Bryant’s quote (and take the Awe Factor Quest in evrmore to help you find the spark easier)
Perseverance: Think of examples when you successfully muscled through obstacles. How can you apply these skills to your talent and passion? (and honor that amazing win by recording a self-affirmation on evrmore)
By Inna Yulman
Certified Coach (ACC)