To disregard fortitude ignores the importance of personal effort.
No, it does not always “pay off” like we might want it to.
Grit, though, is a contributing factor on our journey.
Type in the words grit or fortitude into Google and you will get millions of hits. Is it becoming a cliché or overused? Yes, according to an article a colleague recently shared. The author said he was “tired of grit” for three reasons:
- Grit offers simplistic solutions
- Grit does not give due consideration to genetics
- Grit “attempts to equate unequals as equals.”
During my decades in the classroom, I found “grit” to be an important (and, at times, game-changing) factor in student success. Not the only factor but nevertheless a key factor. When I started my teaching and learning career three-plus decades ago, I don’t even remember the term “grit” getting much (any?) use. We heard about “hard work,” “effort,” “diligence,” “stick-to-it-iveness” or “fortitude.” Similar concepts with similar connotations.
Early in my career I taught students classified as “gifted.” Even within that sub-population of the larger population of students there was a discernible bell curve of achievement. Many factors came into play: home life, academic preparation, work ethic and health issues were a few. Even though all the students had the “gifted” label not all were academically equal. There were super stars—like the few students who eventually scored perfect scores on their SAT tests. And there were those who struggled to keep up with their classmates, as well as those right in the middle of the curve. Fortitude or the lack thereof had an impact on all.
Each semester at the college level I witnessed grit/effort/hard work/fortitude that had an impact. For some students, it was the tenacity to go to tutoring, visit professors, and collaborate with classmates that helped them overcome academic (and other) challenges. They had, developed, or fine-tuned the fortitude to dig deeper and work harder (or even, work minimally) and that provided the added punch that was needed to help get them through an obstacle and keep their dreams alive. Conversely, I also saw the academically gifted/well-prepared fail to achieve their goals due to (in part) a lack of effort.
Paul Stoltz breaks grit into four components: Growth, Resilience, Instinct, and Tenacity. He also recognizes that not all grit is created equally. In other words, someone can have grit and still not be “successful” in her chosen direction if she applies it inappropriately.
Video recommendation of the week: Perhaps Daniel Coyle (Talent Code) who examined the “space” between not being very good at something and being good at something was on to something. When he studied hotbeds of talent and genius he found that when people struggled and continued reaching (fortitude) they got better. Constantly reaching and repeating. Aware of what did and didn’t work. Sounds like grit. No, not everyone will be a “genius” like Coyle studied; but grit moves the person further along toward his or her upper level—wherever that may be.
Or maybe Tony Schwartz (The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working) had the secret when he spoke of ultradian rhythms.
To attribute academic or career shortcomings simply to a lack of effort would be a gross overstatement. Many factors contribute. However, to disregard fortitude might ignore the importance of personal effort. No, it does not always “pay off” like we might want it to. Maybe one of the “isms” intervenes and sabotages our efforts. Maybe we don’t have natural talents to do what we would like to do. Grit, though, is a contributing factor on that journey.
I would be hesitant to discount the importance of grit. I have seen people (including myself) who were told, in one way or another, that they were just not good enough to do what they wanted to do—but through diligent effort, goals were achieved.
Make it a wonderfully successful week as you pursue your “hell, yeah!” goals.—H.T.R.B. as needed.
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My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.
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