Professor Angela Duckworth has caused quite a stir worldwide when her research found that the significant predictors of success are passion and perseverance, also known as ‘grit’. Her studies showed that grit surpasses IQ, talent and socioeconomic status.
“It was the combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special. They had grit. Grit is passion and perseverance for long term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking for your future…for years and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is like living life like a marathon, not a sprint,” explained Duckworth at Ted Talks Education.
Here are some tips that you can use to foster grit in your teens.
Know Your Teens’ Innate Talents
Each child’s is born with innate talents that should be both celebrated and supported. This does not mean that your teen will become passionate about his or her natural abilities. Instead, there may be a connection to other talents that they want to explore. You can start with identifying what he/she enjoys and excels in school. Does your teen tell you how he or she loves humanities subjects? Your teen may possess a natural aptitude for critical thinking and writing . Or perhaps an interest in drawing or craft work?
Mr. Rusydi, co-founder of an education start-up which trains students to develop an entrepreneurial spirit, recommends to constantly challenge your teen to think creatively. Try not to limit your teen by spoon-feeding or bombarding them with fixed pathways. Instead, encourage him or her to do their own research and explain to you their thoughts and plans for the future.
Have faith. Once, Walt Disney was told by his editor that he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Similarly, Claude Monet, the godfather of French Impressionist painting, was mocked and rejected for his work by the artistic elite, the Paris Salon. Yet they had gone on to become legendary figures.
Even when your teen’s dreams seem unrealistic and unattainable to you, you never know where their pursuits may lead them. Allow them to pursue their dreams and give them room for trial and error – it’s the best learning experience. If they should fail, let them figure out why and how to try again.
This way, you will help to build your teen up to decide if their dreams are worth pursuing and what it takes for them to succeed. Have regular face-to-face conversations with your teen to engage them on their interests and challenges.
Encourage Your Teen to Build Up Their Portfolios
“Employers are looking beyond qualifications and hiring based on skillsets,” stated Mr. Rusydi. He urges parents to provide their teens with career guidance. Encourage your teen to go on internships and participate in training programmes. These experiences can help develop their entrepreneurial qualities and mindset where grit matters more than grades.
“In a workplace setting, there are no hard and fast goals. Instead, expect contingencies along the way that beckons strong adaptability and fluid intelligence to resolve unplanned circumstances,” noted Mr. Rusydi.
With the lack of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answers in real life, teens will need to cultivate curiosity and be willing to experiment. For youths who have found their passion, new experiences can help them experience their passion in practical ways.
If they haven’t found their passion, then this is the opportunity to sow it. Think of every new skill and pursuit as a seed. As your teen plants more seeds, the odds of finding that one or two stronger seedlings that will take root and grow into a resilient, healthy tree (their life’s purpose) will be higher.
Embrace a Growth Mindset
Your youths may have a fixed mindset about certain career pathways and avoid trying some things . For example, he or she may think that mathematics is tedious and uninteresting and proceeds to disregard the whole finance industry. At school, they may fail a particular subject or project once and then make the decision that they are simply not cut out for a particular career.
Sit them down and guide them to embrace a growth mindset, a term coined by Professor Carol Dweck. A growth mindset is believing that people have the capacity to learn, develop and grow. In a growth mindset, a failed attempt at something is not a letdown. Rather, the efforts are seen as expanding the boundaries of learning.
As Angela Duckworth succinctly puts it, effort goes a long way. Her simple formula:
Talent X Effort = Skill
Skill X Effort = Achievement
In short, innate talents without effort will never become a skill. Likewise, skill that lacks effort will not translate into results or achievements.
When it comes to flourishing in the future, who knows what will happen? Some people may get lucky, some may find that they need to work a little harder. There is no one-size-fits-all formula. To sum it all up, yes – focus on letting your teen find their passion – but keep an open mind and seize every learning opportunity presented to your child.
Some of the information is drawn from articles that first appeared on Schoolbag.sg,which is run by the Ministry of Education