You are not judged by what you started. You are judged on what you finish! 2020 presented us the so many tributaries and oceans of uncharted waters that required proactive thinking and action. The opportunity opened the doors to the understanding of grit as a character trait that we either develop or let slip because of our sense of courage or hopelessness. The mountain goat’s design makes it climb the most precarious rock faces but, the intriguing thing is the mind of the goat. In death defying manoeuvres it keeps its mind on the terrain, would tackle opponents to maintain its dominance and would look cool as a cucumber. It survives and does not shy away from the next climb. This is grit – the power to climb the ladder of success with what you have in your character and what you add to your character.
My reading of Angela Duckwoth’s GRIT. Why passion and resilience are the secrets to success, engaged me in deep introspection. The introspection led me on the path of self-awareness with more refined understanding and with greater purpose. Purpose defines each day. It is a vulnerable existence if you, for example, are just a blade of grass in the vastness of the Savannah trampled or gobbled up by a herbivore and let out again as droppings to fertilise the land. It is a sordid existence. Each of us live on the land and our purpose has to be more than a blade of grass therefore, an understanding of grit will enliven our existence beyond the plain and ordinary. The savannah of life for us is the vastness of interpersonal relations, career progression, navigating the wilderness of trials, finding self-worth and living a meaningful life amongst people who know you and don’t know you.
Give yourself six minutes to watch Angela Duckworth talk about GRIT and be inspired to change.
The change from the corporate environment to teaching and then to psychology follows on the thread of achieving her life goal as Angela Duckworth and not anyone else. However, her success resonates in the lives of others who benefit because of what she does consistently. She writes her “ultimate concern” in just seven words and it reads like this:
Use psychological science to help children thrive.Angela Duckworth. Grit.Why Passion and resilience are the secrets to success. pg.339
Seven words define her ultimate goal that has given her great success in researching ways to understand grit, human behaviour, interaction with people and the prowess of continuous self-improvement. The emphasis for me is the time spent to achieve her ultimate success daily and in comparison to her daily life is impressive. Really, my life fades into the oblivion because I don’t have that consistency in achieving daily credible milestones on the ultimate concern I penned for my self. My ultimate concern reads like this:
Live to benefit humanity.Abdullah Sujee. My Life Goal Plan.
Living is what we all do but, how we live is something else and therefore, when we analyse how we live, it will be clear for ourselves that we are either existing because we breathe or, we are living to make the world a better place. Until we don’t commit to an ultimate concern, we do not cross the line of dreaming and doing. Doers work and their passion drives their resilience spicing their life with success. The success of the article is not that it will be a lengthy discourse or a praise for Angela Duckworth, no the success that it emanates out of learning something and sharing it with the world. Sharing must be without expectation of reward or praise, it must be like the rising and setting of the sun. The rising and setting of the sun beautifies and radiates even if no one pays attention to it. It does what it is has been designed to do in all of its majesty and that symbolises for humanity that our design is more superior. So how much more majestic should our rising and getting up from a fall be? It has to be amazing! The mere thought should fructify our lives even in times of despair.
Despair is like a cusp – a singular point of a curve; it has to come to some other point but, it is the grit within you that will make the cusp move to a straight line or to another point on a trajectory of a tangent or a bell curve. It is the resilience built in the quality of patience that we ignore because, we don’t live the moment realistically. We live the moment with fears of the future, the burden of the past and with the yoke of what people will say. This is asinine but we perceive it not therefore, when we complain and moan we exude so much of misery. People are not attracted to people who display unsophistication and awkwardness because it defies refinement of character. Our character must be of a behavioural cusp. A behavioural cusp is a change in behaviour with far reaching consequences and it is a point of transition between two states. How often we say, “At that point I realised…” or “At that point I knew..” so on and so forth? This indicates that the point of realisation is that moment of grit because you came to a decision that something must change and if it does not, it will never change.
Chain smokers who gave up smoking cite their change to one moment of truth that made them give up. Today they not smoking and it is the grit they established in themselves that drives their behaviour. The point made here is that we need to start identifying how gritty we really are to bring changes into our lives so that the one day is better than the other. Reading the book got me to write this article because, it proves that action in itself is full of grit which in turn concretises behaviour and the behaviour drives results. Take the time to ask yourself what you value and what you can give to others. Really it is only from a full jug of water that you can fill empty glasses therefore, you need to fill your life with that which you want to give others. In doing this, you are the first benefactor. It is like you becoming this bank that gives out trust, confidence, happiness, kindness and compassion and people invest in your because each interaction with you pays dividend tenfold. This why the adage is: “Money cannot buy happiness.”
Happiness has longevity whilst chasing a desire is not. Schools will be closed when this article is published and teachers and pupils in South Africa will enjoy a holiday until 25 January 2021. It is going to be a long time and one wonders how will each spend their time. There is so much of free time that can be filled with so many vain pursuits that can ruin a day into a abyss of zero achievement save the counted minutes reading a good book. Today, with schools closed, COVID-19 appeared on the horizon as insuperable but, with the school year ending with success the horizon looks optimistic. It was the innate desire of man to ‘live life to lees’ that so much was accomplished even in this continuous battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. The battle relates with the life of the eagle. Eagles have to make a decision to live and the power of their innate grit gives them the awe of presence that defies logic. Grit does not defy logic. All it does is that it makes you rise to extraordinary expectations and that defies logic.
Grit is the innate quality that proved the Hippocratic Oath in every doctor, in every nurse, in every teacher and in every frontline servicemen and women during the highs and lows of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is what got humanity resilient and nations passionate about finding a vaccine in what is a record time. This collaboration speaks volumes on the grit that we have to survive and to live but, it is the lack of it that can take us into the abyss of despair. Despair is a negative space and that is the space the people mentioned above steered clear of giving hope to all of us. Their grit gives life to this pensive indulgence as an accolade for their efforts and courage. Courage is the anodyne of fear. It gives you strength and takes away anxiety which can be your daily bread should you fall into hopelessness. However, you must now where you stand on the GRIT SCALE. Click on the hyperlink and find out. I took the GRIT SCALE on page 65 of Angela Duckworth’s book and refer to it to keep check on grit because it is useful. Every time I check with it I realise how fluid your mindset can be or become if you lack self control or if you live your life aimlessly. The result is immediate and it gives insight to what you need to start doing.
What we need to start doing is making more people aware of positive living because under these COVID conditions loneliness, despair, hopelessness and anxiety have become daily bread whilst, Breeding Positivity is seen as far fetched idealism but, truly it is not. I was intrigued by Iqbal Thokan’s website, ‘Breeding Positivity’ because it reflected the thrust of Angela Duckworth’s message regarding human development. Human development is interconnected with environment, heredity, psychology and geography too. In the interconnectivity of all of this, when understood it becomes the means to enliven passion, resilience and grit. Iqbal takes the lives of ordinary people to show that greatness is being bred and it needs to be nurtured. Furthermore, he shows that every person has the potential of being a savant with his/her life if given the concrete reinforcement that they can be successful. Success comes with sacrifice hard life goal planning too. Breeding positivity is what we need to do on a daily basis because hope is the best rope for anyone in distress and despair. The despair of the people ravaged by war can be symbolised to be deeper and more horrific than a mass grave yet, the people get up and make desperate journeys having death as the only companion. Our problems then in comparison to those fade into insignificance but, it is still a problem.
The problem I battled with in my mind after reading GRIT was the plight of children in war torn countries and how they manage their lives. I watched the video below with a heavy heart and found a place for Malak in my heart too. It is this unwavering resolve to live that astounds me and begs the question: “What is the GRIT scale of these children?” The answer lies in how they believe in a way out and do not hold vengeance as words on their lips but a smile. These words are for them in a special away to acknowledge their courage and to give us hope that with all our hardships we have a great life.
Stories like these of life are pills of GRIT and syrup of gratitude for the untamed heart absorbed in self aggrandisement and selfish living. The passion of the aid workers, the grandparents and the people as a collective tell a story of resilience and passion to live. The dawning of a new world is upon us and it will mean us doing more and finishing what we started so that the legacy of doing never stops. Grit is kaizen because it pivots on continuous improvement and growth regardless of circumstance. It is living in the moment and using it as leverage to make the next moment better. Easier said than done but, doable and that is the possibility.
The possibility to change is there and its tough to deal with change when we don’t know how. Angela Duckworth comes across as the aficionado on dealing with change through understanding oneself and dealing with trails and tribulations with sound knowledge. In a nutshell, Angela taught me that you are your own best persuasion for every action and for every change. Therefore, it reasons out that we need to change our company if they do not provide opportunities for self realisation or growth. Taking a decision itself is an example of knowing your ability to change and sticking by a decision without consideration of broader implications can be detrimental. I thought this article would not reach accomplishment because what I intended to say blossomed into a sagacious self realisation that I have to be the change I want to see. This is oft quoted but, it is ‘only through action that the glory of thought can manifest itself’ is the ringing words of Yawar Baig to remind me that intentions in themselves does not make a sailor a sailor; it is the tumultuous ocean and high waves that makes ships bob like corks in the blue desert of uncharted territories that makes a sailor a sailor. Penning this last paragraph makes me feel the grit of the mountain goat who makes it to the top of the cliff from the bottom up and looks beyond the ridges for yet another climb. I finished what I started and the feeling is Grit or shall I say, GREAT!