"Humans are creatures of habit. If you quit when things get tough, it gets that much easier to quit the next time. On the other hand, if you force yourself to push through it, the grit begins to grow in you."
- Travis Bradberry
I think that this is going to be a little bit of a tough love post .... mixed with a lot of honesty, and a lot of hope for the future. As I am sure that you know, a lot of students today have received their GCSE results today, and I am sure that it will be the same as it is every year - there are the students that got the marks that they wanted, the students that didn't get the results they were hoping for, and then the students that .... well, that didn't really care any way. I have a message for each and every one of you. So listen up .....
This is for the students that got the marks that they wanted: Well a HUGE congratulations to you, I hope that you are celebrating your successes, eating some cake, and generally living it up today. A question I have for you, for tomorrow, is .... did you put in what you got out of the exam process? And by "put in" I mean how hard did you work for these particular marks? I know that some of you work really hard, day in and day out, to achieve these results .... and I commend you, in fact I applaud you, for showing the grit and determination to follow through with deliberate and focused practice. It is this hard work that will see you go further then you can ever imagine, even when the odds are against you, and this is your admirable academic quality - not the letter on your results transcript .... Now, I know there are some of you that can get these A's without actually having to do much hard work. It seems so easy for you, you know that you test well, and means you are confident and oozing in self belief. I had a friend in High School who was like this, would flick through her school books the night before a test, show up, and ace it! Everyone else probably looks at you with daggers in their eyes, wondering why you can do tests so well, and they have to really work for it. I commend you on your marks, but I have to ask, did you do as well as you possibly could have? Not just for marks, but for yourself? Imagine if you put in the amount of work that your study-hard friends do ... imagine what you could achieve, beyond your natural abilities? Are you striving high enough? Celebrate your successes, but really consider, are you holding yourself back? This isn't to put a dampener on your success, but you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't show up everyday to do the work .... think about it, your natural talents + deliberate practice = mind-blowing/amazing/awe-inspiring/ successes, not just in school, but in life!
This for the students that didn't get the marks that they wanted: I commiserate .... and I want to tell you a story - I remember the day I received my HSC results (Australia's A-levels equivalent) .... it wasn't good, my marks were middle of the road, and my TER (Tertiary Entrance Rank) was below the bare minimum I needed to get into University. I was disappointed, but I knew that my focus as a teen wasn't school, it was swimming, and I will be the first to say that I didn't really put in the work that I had to at school to get the results I would have liked. And it is disappointing ... but please, oh please don't let this disappointment mean that you will give up. This is a learning opportunity, and whether you felt that you had worked hard, or not, take this moment to reassess, ask for advice, and look at how you can go forward in the future. It isn't the end, you life isn't over, you can turn it all around, you have potential you can fulfil; so commiserate today, vent, cry, rant .... but tomorrow wake up with a clear head and an open heart, and step forward with confidence that you can turn it all around. You have totally got this.
This is for the students that don't care at all: There must a reason that you don't care, and that is okay, and the only advice I will give you is to speak to someone you trust about this. Speak to someone who will let you speak without judgement, who will listen without bias, who will show you acceptance and kindness. I will also leave you with this though - you do have potential inside of you, you might not believe it, or see it, but it is there, and you are worth success and achievement, maybe you just need support and encouragement that you haven't received before. Much love and hope is being sent your way today.
And so it is August, and the year is almost in it's Autumn, this means that after the fun, lightness, and joy of summer (I completely understand the irony of writing this as it's raining outside) we are looking towards the cooler months, the times of settling into routine and predictability. We are returning to offices, schools, and uni's, we are thinking about goals we have, what we want to achieve, and feeling the excitement of possibility. Because we are full of possibility, from the age of 0 to 100, it is there if you dare look. Think of this time as a time to dream, imagine, and plan. Ultimately you are at the beginning of a new journey, and this journey can be spectacular.
You are special. We are all special - and it is through our special-ness that we come together on common ground. The potential that you hold inside of you is yours alone, but it is your duty to share it with the world around you, to fulfil it to the best of your ability - and we, your team, your friends, your family, your fellow humans will help you with this, just as you will help others. If your potential is here on this earth, to help other human beings, to feed, clothe, house, or educate, be here, be grounded, and fill that potential. If your potential is to fly high into the clouds, to discover, to dance with the stars, fly high, experiment, learn to flap those wings, and take humanity to the stars over and over again.
We are our present and our future, and we must stride forward, remembering with care the darker times, but celebrating the great times, and striving for the awe-inspiring times. As you make clear your intention for the following months remind yourself of your capabilities, you are capable of being awe-inspiring, even in the simple actions of day-to-day life; be kind, be generous, be filled with love and admiration for those around you (even the ones you may not get on with very much - cause we are only human after all). And we are only human .... but we are fantastically human, so be present with your feelings, thoughts, and intentions. Make the intention not to hurt anyone (even though it may be inevitable). Make the intention to show more compassion (even in a moment of selfishness). Make the intention to be the best person that you can be over the next 12 months, next 5 years, whole lifetime.
But gaze into the future with wonderment - imagine, right here, right now, the breathtaking discoveries that will be made, in the human head and heart, as well as in the oceans, forests, and the cosmos. Choose to be a part of that future, in any capacity that you wish for. Work hard, be deliberate in your practice, discover new paths to success, scale new levels of achievement; nothing ever comes easy .....
.... but this where the best lessons about life and yourself are learnt. In the mulling over a particularly difficult equation, or sorting through the confusion of human relationships, or repeatedly being told you can't - to finally discovering you can. Because of course you can. Show up every day to your life, be present whilst dreaming of the future, be focused, be inspired, be determined to achieve, trust your gut, know your potential.
You've got this.
Will Smith asks if you're "getting jiggy wit it" ..... I ask you, are you "getting gritty with it"?
Well ..... are you?
Grit is the new buzz word in education and positive psychology circles, but in and of itself, it is not a new concept. Being gritty has been around for a long time, but a lot of people don't know exactly what it is, what it means for them, and what it means on an academic and psychological level that can actually provide us with a pathway to getting more "gritty with it." So what is grit and how can it help you achieve success?
I recently attended a Positive Education Conference, where I was privileged to see Grit expert, Angela Duckworth (a fellow admirer of Will Smith), speak about her research into grit. For Angela, grit is a collection of concepts, skills, and habits that you can implement into your own life, to lead to greater success. Here are 3 of those concepts, skills, and habits, that you can bring into your life right now, to prepare you for school, uni, work, that you may be starting in September:
1. Grit in itself is more of a predictor of success then IQ - Grit is a skill that you can pick up and run with on a day to day basis, and if you do increase your grit "strength" you are more likely to see success then someone with a higher IQ who hasn't developed their grit. This is great news, right? Right. Because it means that no-matter your starting point, you can achieve your goals. A good way to keep track of where you are grit-wise is to do Angela Duckworth's grit score test (another test!!!! I hear you say). It is a test that will help you see where you are at and where you can go, check it out here - Grit Score Test. Take it now to get a base-line score (mine, at the moment, is 3.75 ... a little lower then I expected, but it has given me a starting point, to where I can now look at my habits and skills and get more "gritty with it"), implement some of the advice below, and then take it again in 6 months time and see if your grit score has gone up.
2. Deliberate practice is the key - "Of course, I practice every day, I practice my sport, my hobbies, my school work, but why is that not working?" It may not be working if you are just "practicing" by going through the motions. To really build grit and success you need to practice, well, deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is knowing exactly what practice will work (and this links to the lower goals that Angela talks about, but more about lower goals, mid-range goals, and higher goals below), and turning up each and every day with focus and intention to this practice. For example, when I was swimming the reason that I kept on improving, year after year, wasn't just because my fitness was good due to my constant show up to training, but because each training session I focused on the little things, on adjusting my stroke, practicing my turns and starts, trying to improve my training times for different sets. Just showing up isn't enough, you have to deliberately be present and focused on what it is that you want to work on and improve.
3. Lower, Mid, and Higher goals .... can't I just set A goal? - When Angela talks about lower, mid, and higher level goals, she is essentially talking about what I talk about in RWS - the goal journey (or goal mapping). When you discover your passion and purpose, you create your higher goal, this is essentially set in stone (though not really, I believe in some flexibility in your higher goal). To reach your higher goal you need to set mid level goals (goals that are smaller and more mundane then the larger goal, but necessary to achieve if you want to reach that higher goal), And to reach those mid level goals, and ultimately your higher goal, you have the lower level goals, but these goals are rather flexible, can fail, can create obstacles, but because of their lower necessity for achieving the higher goal, can be interchanged or abandoned for another. It is a mapping system, providing you with stepping stones that you can work on and achieve every day, whilst still keeping the bigger picture in mind.
Grit is a crucial skill to develop in your life, whether you are starting your GCSE's, A-Level's, Uni, or work, so get some grit in your life and get those goals happening!