Some qualities are more important than others for certain fields, and some are essential for achievement in any field. Beyond all these, the personality trait that leaders in any field have in common is GRIT.
Grit, as a concept, was introduced by Angela Duckworth, psychologist, university professor, and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. In her statements she asks why do some people succeed more than others despite having the same level of intelligence and similar circumstances? Some achievements require creativity, vigor, emotional intelligence, talent, and self-confidence.
For years, she has studied the characteristics of successful people - CEOs, Olympic athletes, top Hollywood actors, musicians, etc. and found that talent, intelligence, or knowledge are not enough to achieve full top-level success. Grit is about the courage to make the effort, and the perseverance to face the less than pleasant experiences on the road to success. Grit is about passion and hard work, about dealing with failure, about getting up and moving forward, no matter how hard it gets.
The Grit philosophy is about living life as a marathon, not a sprint.
Essential in this marathon are two aspects - the power of effort - perseverance, resilience, and the power of concentration - focus. Talent must be matched by passion and perseverance. Perseverance improves with age, but grit can be trained, both in children and adults. It's all very well to set goals and prioritize them, but we need to know how to let them go if we realize that they no longer fit with our main goal. To do this, we need resilience training.
A Standford University study of 301 people considered geniuses found that they were guided by two key principles: they didn't abandon tasks just for the sake of trends or the need for change, and they didn't abandon tasks in the face of obstacles.
How to cultivate grit in learning
To develop our passion and perseverance, Angela Duckworth believes it takes a few key elements.
Any untrained skill plateaus and then is lost. That's why deliberate, ongoing practice is needed. Deliberate practice needs a goal, a goal you haven't reached yet. The fact that you haven't reached it yet can be a saboteur. Another element that can distract you is the inability to concentrate in a group. That's why the challenge for teachers is to maintain concentration at all times, under all conditions. The third element children need in the educational process is feedback. It is essential that they receive continuous feedback, and that this feedback is improved and renewed. On average, it takes about 10 years to reach a higher level of performance through deliberate practice. Deliberate practice cannot be sustained without perseverance and passion, and it has nothing to do with fun and enjoyment. Deliberate practice requires effort and is not fun. That is why passion is needed because passion is the engine when the tasks are difficult and the tendency to give up arises. Cultivating grit requires constantly exceeding your standards, i.e. working on your strengths, not taking them for granted, and training your weaknesses. Any result takes hours of tedious work, which can even feel like a struggle.
Interviews and research that have uncovered the characteristics of successful people have shown that they are most motivated by a desire to help others, to contribute to the world, and to feel they have made a difference. Contributing to the life of the community and others can often outweigh the personal benefits that can be gained and can be an extremely important motivating factor.
A flexible mindset is one of the main predictors of grit. A flexible mindset improves academic achievement and increases happiness and quality of life. You can read more about a flexible mindset in the article How a flexible mindset helps you learn easier and be happier.
Teachers are or should be mentors for students, to set an example and a role model for them to look up to and help them in their development. Sometimes teachers have to force children to do difficult tasks they don't want to do. This can train grit and reassures children that there is always someone behind them who believes in them and won't let them give up when they have a hard time. Each of us has it within us to not give up and keep going, we just need to be aware of it and train it. Teachers need to be the coaches who create the classroom culture and give children constant confidence that they are special and will succeed in whatever they set out to do. Grit is the most effective predictor of successful people. Talented people don't always succeed precisely because they lack grit, the ability to persevere based on passion.
What we need to remember from the grit perspective is that a child does not need to perform in all areas, quite the contrary. He needs to perform exceptionally well in the area where his passion can lead him on the path to success with perseverance.