The search for what it takes to become the best of the best seems to be ongoing and never-ending. Books such as The Talent Code and The Gold Mine Effect have scoured the world looking at different factors ranging from a supportive environment and self-belief to the famous 10,000-hour rule all of which seem to play some part in helping individuals forge a path to greatness. But there is something missing from the equation as none of these things on their own is a clear indicator of excellence, so what is?
In her book ‘Grit’ psychologist, Angela Duckworth, says that IQ, talent and hard work are not the best indicators of future success. Instead, it’s Grit, which she labels as passion and perseverance that is the greatest predictor.
“Even if some of the things they had to do were boring or frustrating or even painful,” explains Duckworth when talking about her studies with so-called gritty people.
“They would never dream of giving up. Their passion was enduring.”
We see how damaging the lack of grit in young players can be on a weekly basis with many complaining that the other team is too rough, the referee isn’t fair, they aren’t being played in the right position or that the coach is too loud while many simply pull the plug as soon as they feel a little pain. Parents look to console these adverse feelings but, without realising it, all they are doing is cementing the idea that when the going get’s tough someone else is to blame. The kids fall away and become frustrated at the first sign of a struggle.
But can we teach grit as coaches or learn it ourselves.
Although we can teach the theory of grit this alone will not increase the effect within students or athletes. But that doesn’t mean that Grit can’t be learned. The way to instill this characteristic is through experience and examples. We need to push ourselves and our players to demand more. Set challenges that stretch us mentally physically and set out rewards for the effort, whether it’s praise or a physical award it will show what can happen when we are prepared to push through to succeed.