Weekly Quote and Challenge: Learning to Handle Crucibles in Life by Assessing Your Grit Factor

Weekly Quote: “Life is what happens when you’re expecting something else.”

Reflection: With all of life’s uncertainties, we need to learn and accept what life brings us and use these difficult experiences to create opportunities for personal learning and growth.

Research shows that Significant Emotional Experiences (SEE) or what we now call traumatic experiences can result in post-traumatic growth or problems depending on our perception, grit and resilience. Positive learning following SES starts by acknowledging that life is not based on certainty facing and embracing ambiguity as a fundamental principle of human existence. It also requires self-awareness to acknowledge your personal responsibility for the choices you make and learning about what you control or don’t control in life. You cannot go through life without getting knocked down and experiencing suffering and pain. The question is how you will respond, and whether you will come back stronger than ever (resilience). Rather than living a depressed and angry life, suppressing the realities and crucibles of life I recommend you turn them into opportunities by challenging yourself to learn and grow from these inevitable twists and turns of life.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Make an assessment  of your “grit” developed by Dr. Duckworth and her collegues  then identify what you need to do to develop more grit. Also, identify the crucibles and difficulties you are now facing and how are you handling the situation. Make a plan for learning and start today to adjust your thinking that these difficult and SEE experiences won’t happen to you.

Note: Defining “grit”

“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Angela Duckworth 


Growth Mindset: Research and Reflections on the Power of Grit

” Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day-in, day-out, not just for the week, not just for the month,but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Angela Lee Duckworth

” No matter what your current ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.” – Carol Dweck

What is grit and the effects of it on short-term motivation and the development of a “Growth Mindset”? It means having the ability to separate short-term losses or failure by taking the time to stop what you are doing, reflect on the lesson you learned and experiment with new approaches that might work better to reach the long-term goal. The method used by effective leaders is to stop, reflect on what is working or not, think about a different strategy or tactic to try next, set a new goal, and go for it. If that Plan B doesn’t work be flexible enough to try something else, always committed to the big picture.  This is grit. It’s the “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”

According to Dr. Duckwork “Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina.” (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, and Kelly, 2007. p. 1087-1088) ” Can a leopard change its spots? Can a human change their personality and become gritty” ? Generally personality research has found that personality characteristics are stable over time. ( University of California: Nave, Sherman, Funder, Hampson, and Goldberg, 2010).  But it is important to understand that our behaviors can be influenced by the environment and habits can change over time. We may not be able to change our genetics but we do have the capacity to change our brain and behaviors.  We do have free will and our brain is malleable.  In similar vein, someone may have a genetic predisposition to develop heart disease, but if that person makes the choice and effort to eat healthy, be physically active, and not smoke then the manifestation of heart disease is less likely. For most people becoming more gritty requires a plan, effective effort and practice, feedback, and small-success over a long period of time.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Do you want more grit? Start here:

1) Write out your plan for changing a specific behavior or habit – establish your baseline, set a goal, define a clear goal and set-up an action of activities for reaching the goal.

2) Eliminate obstacles or interferences for change – What are your barriers? Is it no exercise routine, too much watching sports on TV, internet meandering, poor eating and snacking routines? 

3) Keep a Personal Change Journal – Writing down your successes and failures has been shown by research as a powerful tactic for supporting motivation, monitoring your feelings and emotions. Work on solutions.

4) Share the plan – Share your plan with someone who is supportive yet can offer feedback on your progress

5)    Keep track of your successes – Remember the days when you would receive a gold star for exceptional performance in grade school? Give yourself a gold star for every success you have during the day.

6) Never. Never. Never… give up. Success is a marathon…ultramarathon, not a sprint. There will be peaks and valleys. Expect failure, but don’t accept it. Learn from it and keep moving forward. You must remain passionate about your goals.

7) All of this hard work and effort will payoff if you keep at it. Personal change is difficult and takes time. You need to overcome obstacles and embrace them.

References Duckworth, A., Peterson, C., Matthews, M., and Kelly, D.  (2007).  Grit: Perserverance and passion    for long term-goals.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; (92), 1087-1101. Nave, C., Sherman, R., Funder, D., Hampson, S., and Goldberg, L. (2010). On the contextual independence of personality: Teachers’ assessments predict directly observed behavior after four decades.  Social Psychology and Personality Science; (1), 327 – 334.

Daily Quote and Reflection: What does research tell us about “true grit, learning and efforting when trying to reach your goals?


Daily quote: “No matter what your current ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.” – Carol Dweck

Let’s start with the definition of “grit” when comes to learning how to learn.  In an article on the meaning of grit researchers http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~duckwort/images/Grit%20JPSP.pdf say grit in  “the “perseverance and passion for long-term goals” (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, & Kelly, 2007, p.1087).


Eduardo Briceno, CEO Mindset Works  provides us with clear insights on this topic when he says  ” Often, students and adults don’t recognize the difference between effort ( doing the same thing,over and over again expecting different results) and effective effort. If we say “try harder”, “study more”, or “stick with it”, students may think that they need to sit in front of their assignment for more time, continuing to do the same thing that hasn’t worked for them in the past, rather than finding a more effective strategy to achieve their goal, such as trying to solve a simpler problem in as many ways as possible, breaking down the task into smaller pieces, drawing a picture and showing it to someone for feedback, drilling down on mistakes to understand them, setting specific learning goals at the appropriate level of challenge, and asking for help, among many others. We need to teach effective learning strategies, and to encourage students to share strategies with one another.

Effective effort involves reflecting on our approaches to work smarter, which is needed to achieve different outcomes. Teaching that to students, along with effective learning strategies and the understanding that we can change our abilities (a growth mindset), motivates them, as it gives them a path to success.

The same is true of us as educators. Sometimes we forget the need to reflect on our overall approaches. If what we have done in our classrooms hasn’t worked in the past, do we have the grit to stick with our goal of reaching all students? Will we put in the effort to reflect on our approaches, and learn about and try different strategies, until we find a way to achieve our big, hairy, audacious goal”?


If we are aware of the distinction between effort and effective effort, and ensure students are too, we can all work together on building our self-management and learning competencies to maximize our progress. Students then come to understand that we’re not asking them to pound their head against a wall, but to learn more effective ways to learn, with a growth mindset, and that we’re here to support them and to improve with them along the way. That motivates them, and it empowers them with the learning competencies needed to thrive in school and in life.


Nothing is more important in life  than to learn how to be an effective  learner. Period.

Self-coaching Challenge–What are you doing to become a life-long learner?  

Daily Quote and Self-Coaching Challenge: Think Straight and Develop Your Grit

Daily Quote: What you are thinking, what shapes your mind is in, is what makes the biggest difference of all.   Willie Mays


Your toughness and grit is made up of equal parts belief, persistence and deliberative practice and experience. The toughest opponent of all is the negativity and skeptic or sarcastic one inside your head.  Below see the  4 tips for overcoming negativity and build grit into your character and daily actions:

1. Believe it or not, passions grow out of your values. Make early, wise choices to value what (and who) is good, trustworthy, and praiseworthy.

2.Think straight, talk straight and do the straight or right thing to grow your character

3. Find a passion. Pick a hobby, own it: running, photography, juggling, tennis, writing, art and whatever. Get your 10,000 hours of perfect practice in early and change your life.

4.Don’t bother comparing yourself to others—this only leads to heartbreak, anger, and disappointment.

Self-Coaching Challenge: What’s the one thing you would do right now if you had more confidence? What are you going to do to gain more self-confidence?