Recently, I came across a Ted Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth. I had seen this Ted Talk once before in a class when I first started college and did not think much of it. When I came across it again, only a few months ago, what she talked about really resonated with me as a senior in college. In the video, she spoke about the idea of grit and the power of passion and perseverance. She talked about how she taught seventh grade math for the New York City public school district. Through teaching, she found that IQ was not the only thing that separated her best students from her worst. Some of her top students had lower IQ scores than her less successful students and vice versa. She then studied the question, “What characteristic leads a person to be more successful?”
Through her research, she found that the one defining quality in people who were successful was grit. It was not IQ score, socioeconomic status, or physical health. Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals. Duckworth said that grit is having stamina and the ability to weather the storms that life brings while continuing to work on your goals day in and day out. In her words, grit is living life like it is a marathon, not a race.
This idea of grit has become a key theme both in and out of my academic life. Every day I have to “check my grit”…no really…about 3 times a day I say to myself in my head, “check your grit.”
I may be weird, but it is the difference between me going home to relax only to push more work onto tomorrow, or going to the library and setting myself up for a good week. I ask, “Am I working my hardest? Could I do more today to achieve my goals? What are your goals?”
If I just push a little harder today, then I will have a better tomorrow. This statement has proven to be overwhelmingly true in my life. Like all college students, I am vulnerable to procrastination, laziness, and discouragement. School is hard. And life is harder! No one is on their game 100% of the time. The great thing about grit is that it is not something you are born with or born into. Which means it can be learned over time. It also means that there is potential inside of everyone to succeed. Lazy days are inescapable. But remembering to check your grit on a regular basis can turn you from a person who can work hard sometimes, into a hard-working person.
The American dream is real. You can come from nothing and make something of yourself. I was a poor, mediocre student in high school with issues. Now I am an undergraduate student, taking graduate courses with a bright future ahead of me. Having grit is the difference between knowing what you want, and actually getting what you want. Having goals and actually achieving them. Do not let anybody ever tell you that you cannot achieve what you want to achieve. Because if you have the determination and passion to do something, you can do it. You can do it because this world is built off the backs of underdogs. This world is built off the back of gritty humans. And gritty humans get things done regardless of race, IQ, socioeconomic status, or cards that are dealt to them. Grit is a field leveler. It is that thing inside of yourself that no one else can tap into. That underutilized resource of hope and change. So, try checking your grit on a daily basis. Move your life into the direction you desire. Because no one knows your potential but you, and no one else is going to bring it out of you.
Please Note: The views of our student bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the UAlbany Advisement Services Center. These are their stories and their voices.
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