A Lil’ Grit Goes A Long Way


In the previous post, we mentioned passion and the need for it to help you be motivated. Do you know that passion is 50% of another important quality that we are going to talk about today? What is this important quality to help you succeed in achieving your goals?

J.K. Rowling. Vincent Van Gogh. Walt Disney. Albert Einstein.

Other than being famous, do you know what else these four people have in common? If your guess is that they had failed (more than once!) before achieving their goals, then you are absolutely right!

Rowling, the celebrated author of the Harry Potter series, was rejected twelve times when she took her the first Harry Potter manuscript to the publishers.

Van Gogh was a gifted painter whose works of art were terribly unappreciated during his time. He only sold one painting while he was alive.

Disney was fired from his first job for “not being creative enough” and one of his first companies, Laugh-O-Gram, went bankrupt soon after it was set up.

Einstein did not talk until he was four and could not read until he was seven. His parents and teachers thought he was mentally handicapped and he was even expelled from school for this same reason.

However, despite the challenges that each of them faced, they refused to call it quits. Instead, they showed grit, which is a term defined by researcher and psychologist, Angela Duckworth as passion and perseverance for long-term goals.

Now, why am I sharing this with you? I am sure that most of you have received your results; whether it is the SA2 marks or your PSLE grades. As you reflect on how you have done, some of you may look at the subjects that you have not performed well in and say, “I’m just not good at it” or “I just can’t do any better”.

I am also guilty of such a mindset. There are times when I am faced with a difficulty and it feels easier to give up or dismiss it with a comment like “I am so lousy at this”. So how do we aspire to be like Rowling or Disney and keep going even when the going gets tough?

I think the first step to take is to develop what Carol Dweck, a researcher at Stanford University, calls a ‘growth mindset’. This is the belief that our intelligence and abilities can be improved with perseverance, effort and learning. Having this mindset helps us see failures not as something to be feared but rather as an important part of learning. It is only by failing that we see what we need to improve. Knowing how to improve will bring us closer to our goals.

The point I am trying to make is all of us have the capability to succeed and achieve our goals. Short-term goals maybe quicker to achieve while long-term goals often require a longer period of time to reach. Unfortunately, some of us do not get to taste the sweet fruits of our labour because we decide to throw in the towel too soon when it comes to long-term goals. Instead, remember to build on your every failure to become better!

These are things to keep in mind when tackling something you find challenging:

  1. Set small, achievable targets. Remember that the tree was once a seedling, so start with small steps and you will get there.

  2. Build on your every failure to become better. Think about how you can improve after failing the previous time.

  3. Always be kind to yourself. There will be times when you feel that you have put in a lot of effort yet fail to yield any results. Tell yourself that it is okay and that you are still making progress despite the setback.

  4. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and are a positive influence. They will be there to support you and cheer you on, making it less daunting than when you have to face it alone.

Lastly, I would like to encourage you by sharing with you that grit is not a quality that only children need to build. Even at Lil’ but Mighty, our teachers do face setbacks and there are days when we feel like a goal seems unlikely to be achieved. However, each time that we decide not to give up but push ahead, we are getting closer to our goal. Adults and children alike, we all need grit!

I will end today’s post with one of my favourite quotes. It is something I always remind myself whenever I feel like giving up when faced with a difficult task:

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”

— Confucius

I hope the quote will inspire you as well. All the best and till next we meet, take care!

Ms. Nora

Ms Nora is an English Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. She is committed to providing students with a dynamic and nurturing environment in which they can grow and develop. One of her greatest strengths as an educator is instilling a love for the English Language in her students.

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