How does Growth Mindset relate to Grit?


How does growth mindset relate to grit? Well what the hell is grit? I just think back to when I was younger and my dad was a builder. Grit was the horrible sharp sand he used to use for making concrete, or that really sharp painful stuff that always got stuck in your knees and hands when you fell over. So growth mindset and grit? Sounds pretty painful to me!


Actually, that isn't the grit I mean. This grit is one I came across about eighteen month ago, a book that features on our website as an 'Inspirational Read.' A book by Angela Duckworth, best selling author of the appropriately titled "Grit - Why passion and resilience are the secrets to success."

And with a title like that, maybe all is becoming clear. As you know, one of our favourite topics is 'resilience.'

So let's break this down, lets share some insight in to what it is, why it's important, how we can develop it and the link with growth mindset itself. Got your brew? No distractions? Let's get started.


What is grit?

Grit is a word Angela Duckworth uses to describe the characteristics of certain people. In her work, she began studying the rigorous and challenging process of making it through the United States Military Academy at West Point. Every year 14,000 student apply for their place to take part in the 7 week training programme, Beast Barracks, but interestingly enough, over the course of 2 years, only 1200 are admitted and enrolled and then from there 1 in 5 then drop out in the first 2 months. Angela was fascinated by this. The fact that people would waste 2 years of their life, only to quit and give up near the end, but let's not take this lightly. It isn't called 'Beast' for nothing. Even West Point itself calls this program "the most physically and emotionally demanding part of your four years at West Point...designed to help you make transition from new cadet to soldier."

A program that tests and pushes you mentally and physically to your limits from 5am to 10pm every day.

And this is where Angela's work began, studying the characteristics of these cadets and what got them through to end. She describes grit as being a "ferocious determination" which meant they were all hardworking and resilient, having a very deep understanding of what they wanted, a determination with direction.

Can grit be developed?

In it's simple form, yes.

Grit, like any other human characteristic is partly in our genetic makeup, but also partly developed through our experiences and influences in our lives. What is striking about grit though, is a piece of research from Angela, studying a large group of American adults. Using her 'Grit Scale' to measure them by, she found that as age increased, grit also climbed up too. In fact her grittiest adults were in their late sixties or older, showing that like IQ, traits can change and develop over time.

On our courses, reflecting upon where you are now plays a huge role in what you will do next. To develop more grit, reflect and understand where you are today. If you're not as gritty as you would hope for, why not?

What Angela then whet on to discover in her research was that their are 4 common things that occur when developing grit.

1) Passion: A real interest and intrinsic motivation - you just love what you're doing.

2) Practice: A discipline to spend quality, focused time practicing over and over.

3) Purpose: That what you are doing has it's place not only for you but other too.

4) Hope: That desire, that fire to keep going even when things get tough. You get back up after a fall.


It's in number 4 that grit meets growth mindset.


Why is grit so important in growth mindset?

The question isn't 'Why is grit so important in a growth mindset?' it's more an understanding that grit is part of a growth mindset. In fact our mindset guru, Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth conducted some research together, incorporating grit into their questionnaire of over 2000 students.

They found that those students that showed more of a growth mindset, were considerably more grittier than those with more of a fixed mindset and going back to what I said about number 4 in the section above, language is where we can cultivate hope and if you have been on any of our training, you will also know that language is a crucial part in developing a culture of growth.

The way we interact with people every day and the language we use develops another's mindset. Which mindset they lean towards is in the power of the words we use.

Hope comes in many of the messages we use to develop this culture:


"That didn't work, lets find out how you came at this and what might work better next time."

"Great job! Tell me one thing that could be done even better?"

"This is tricky and you can't do this yet."

"I've got high standards, but I know we can reach them together."


As you've read in some of our previous blogs, you can't just encourage and say the right things to people for them to grow and develop. They have to put in the action and the belief that they can. This development of 'hope' can take time, in effect, it's all about rewiring those previous thoughts, those previous words we have heard and changing them into something more positive. This can be trickier than it might seem as our habits are engrained and 'just happen.'

But.....it can be done and what Angela concluded from her talks with Carol, was:


growth mindset = optimistic self talk = perseverance over adversity


So grit IS growth mindset and to build grit, you also need to develop your mindset too.


How can you work on grit and growth mindset?

In terms of what now, how do I work on this? I've put together 7 tips. This is not an exhaustive list, but it's a good place to start!


1) Like with grit, reflect where your mindset is now. Do you believe talent is the result of DNA or more about hard work and practice?


2) What does your inner voice say to you? Is it negative, does it stop you from trying things? Do you listen to it? Does it bring you down and make you feel inferior to others or is it hopeful and more positive? Does it tell you to embrace challenges and make you feel good about yourself?


3) Acknowledge and accept times of a more fixed approach and reassess and reflect for next time. What could you differently, do you need to work on your thoughts, actions or both?


4) Practice positive self talk daily.


5) Make time for you to follow your interests.


6) Surround yourself as much as possible with gritty, growth orientated people.


7) Seek support from others to guide you through - our 1:1 coaching programme can help you do this


How we can help

Our coaching programme works on building confidence within people to allow you to thrive throughout all areas of your personal and professional life.


So as well as developing grit and growth from the inside out, we can support you and allow you to develop it from the outside in!


Feel free to get in touch if you want to know more! If you love a good read, why don't you check out our other blogs about mindsets. If you would like to know more about Grow Your Mindset click here. Much Love Gemma x

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