December 16

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EP 38 | Why Grit and Productive Struggle Lead to Growth Mindset

By Kim Strobel

December 16, 2020


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In today’s episode of the She Finds Joy podcast, Kim talks all about Angela Duckworth. She’s a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and in her research she has stated that it is neither talent, nor physical strength, nor intelligence that leads to outstanding achievement and success in life. The secret is grit. 

Duckworth defines grit as “Passion and sustained persistence applied toward long-term achievement, with no particular concern for rewards or recognition along the way.” 

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Listen On: iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | Spotify

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In this episode, Kim discusses Duckworth’s research on grit and how it can be the number one determiner of why some people fail—while others succeed—at accomplishing their goals and dreams.

Listen in to learn:

  • What grit is and how you can start being grittier in life. 
  • How you can grow your mindset to remove limiting beliefs. 
  • Why you should embrace productive struggle—it’s the path to success. 
  • Why we must learn to do hard things. 
  • The five characteristics of gritty people. 
  • How mindsets can be changed over time.

    “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.” – Angela Duckworth, University of Pennsylvania Professor of Psychology

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    Checkout this Episode on Youtube as well. 

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    Helpful Links

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    About Kim

    Kim Strobel is Chief Happiness Officer at Kim Strobel Live Events and Retreats. She is a teacher, consultant, motivational speaker, happiness coach, and a mission-minded person whose passion is helping others overcome their fears and discover their joy! 

    You can follow Kim’s journey on Instagram at @KimStrobelJoy and in the free private, She Finds Joy Facebook community.
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    Kim Strobel 00:24 

    So in the last episode we were talking a lot about the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset and how we are all a mixture of both. And that plays out in our lives in many times that really limits us from being able to really tap into our full potential. And we were also talking about how so much of this mindset work really has to do with our beliefs and the beliefs that we hold about ourselves. And so many people ask me, Kim, what is the difference what is what are the things that are really make a person be able to switch From being fixed mindset oriented about something over to a growth mindset, and it’s really about that ability to get uncomfortable to be willing to fail to take on challenges and not be good at them at first. It is a lot about, you know, perseverance and even understanding what grit is and how you know, grit comes into play. And when we’re talking about grit, I love Angela duck works, work. And I’m actually going to include in the show notes, a little TED talk by Angela Duckworth that I love, which is titled what is grit? I think it’s 12 minutes long. And it’s really interesting to listen to this. And so, you know, to me, Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth. 

     

    They they go hand in hand when they’re talking about growth, mindset, and grit. And what we know is that With the new research we’re finding out, you know, in the teaching profession and with students and with understanding the neuroscience of brain, that IQ is not the only difference between the best students and the worst students. And what psychologists are also finding out is that there’s one characteristic that is really emerging as a significant predictor of success. And it’s not even social intelligence. It’s not emotional intelligence. It’s not good looks or physical health or IQ. It’s actually this word called grit. And I talked about grit a lot in the last episode when we were talking about growth mindset. And so it’s been said, you know, that grit is and I like what Duckworth says she says, it’s like living life, like it’s a marathon and not a sprint. But you know, what really is grid And how can we nurture this in ourselves as adults as human beings who are wanting to grow ourselves? And certainly how do we nurture this in our own children and even you know, in the classroom if you’re a teacher and you’re listening to this episode, because I think that if I were to ask you if your kids are really gritty and really resilient, most of us, especially for the teaching field are like no students are not gritty. They are not resilient. 

     

    They give up as soon as they encounter an obstacle. And so what Duckworth says grit is, is that it is passion and perseverance for very long term goals. She says that grit is having stamina, grit is sticking with your future day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years and working really hard to make That future reality. And so I love this idea of grit. Because, you know, one of the things that I know that I teach teachers and also adults is this idea of productive struggle. And to me productive struggle is one of those terms that we really need to begin to embrace. And you know, productive struggle is really this idea of growing ourselves, feeling pain, stretching our mental muscles, our emotional, mental muscles, feeling uncomfortable, and continuing with it day in and day out, even though it’s not easy. And so when we’re thinking of this, you know, I always like to think of productive struggle, and I love that Duckworth relates it to a marathon because as you know, I’m a marathon. runner and I always tell people, you know, most of us who run a marathon which is 26.2 miles, when you get to about mile 21, or 22, you know, your body basically wants to stop on you, right? You’re in severe pain. You don’t feel like you can take another step. All you want to do is you want this race to be over you keep you say all this nasty stuff in your head. I’m never doing this again. Why would anybody want to do this? Why can’t I be like the people in the lawn chairs on the side who are happy and smiling and rooting for me? Why do I have to be the one doing this race? And then you start looking for the mile marker and you’re like, Where’s 21? Where’s 21? Where’s 21? Where’s 21? Then you get to 21? And you’re like, Oh my gosh, am I gonna be able to make it to 22 and I tell people that that’s where like productive struggle really starts to be the difference in the person who makes it to the end of the marathon and the one who doesn’t because productive stuff.

     

     struggle is really kind of that sweet spot. Right? Where, yes, you’re feeling pain? Yes, you don’t know if your body will take another step. But your mind kind of comes in and says, you know, step, step, step, step, or keep working on it, keep working at it, keep working at it, or don’t give up, don’t give up, don’t give up, don’t give up. And, and so it’s really that idea of productive struggle is that idea of being able to persist in the face of challenge, right? It’s that idea of, Hey, can you do hard things, even when you’re afraid you’re going to fail even when you know, anxiety is going to be high even when you’re not real sure you have the skill set to make it through. And so it’s that idea of struggling towards something that is worth it in the end. And so again, going back to, you know, my marathon, you know, I tell myself 100 times from mile 21 to mile 26 that I never doing this again. And this is the stupidest thing ever. And why would anybody want to put themselves through this kind of pain and this kind of mental anguish and I’m so frustrated and I’m honked off and ticked off. And then I finish and I cross the finish line.

     

    And you know, 10 minutes later, I’m like, Yes, yes, I did it. Yes. I accomplished this. Yes, it was hard. Yes. I’m going to do this again next year. And I think that in today’s world, our students and our kids and our children, they don’t really understand the fulfillment that comes from embracing and doing hard things. And let’s be honest, even as adults, it’s really hard. We don’t like to do hard things. As soon as we encounter an obstacle or a roadblock, or a defeat, we want to throw the towel in and just give up. And so grit is actually talking about this idea of, you know, it, that that seems to be one of the predictors of people who experience high levels of success in their life, and those who don’t. And so in her book, grit, the power of passion and perseverance, she’s really saying, like, hey, how can all of us whether you’re a parent, or a student, or an athlete or an entrepreneur, or a business person or a student, that the secret to Outstanding Achievement in your life is not about raw talent, but it’s this kind of special blend of passion and perseverance married together that she calls grit. 

     

    And I have to tell you, you know, Daniel Goleman his research, when we tend to think that IQ and that kind of intelligence has so much to do with a person’s success. But Daniel Goleman research says that IQ really only has four to 10% to do with a person’s career success, and I will tell you, just when I think about people that I went to school with, I mean, I went to school with a guy who hated school, he hated academics, he probably struggled in reading, he struggled in math, he struggled in science, like he was not an academic person at all. But now he is probably a multimillionaire and he runs his own Electric Company and his own solar division company. And I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but I am going to guess that it was his ability to marry that thing. But he was very passionate about with the, the grit and determination and drive to help him succeed. And so when we’re looking at this, you know, I think it’s interesting to kind of understand that, again, it’s not about being born with a certain set of talents or aptitude or intelligence or skill set, that it’s really this idea of grit. That seems to be a big determiner in your ability to achieve what you want in this life. And so, you know, she I know even in her book, she talks about the cadets who are struggling through their first days at West Point, Military Academy, and that it wasn’t the ones that had like the best physical endurance of the Best physical shape.

     

     And it wasn’t the, the, the soldiers who were the ones with the highest IQs that were the ones that made it out of West Point that it was actually grit, the ones who were gritty that made all the difference in the world. And so you know, she’s really big on this idea of using your effort and that we can actually learn how to be gritty. We can learn resilience, we can learn how to do really hard things. Which, you know, if we’re going to try to embrace this idea of growth mindset, and then we’re going to have to develop our skills of grittiness. And so she also talks about the five characteristics of grit So the first characteristic that Duckworth talks about when it comes to grit is courage. Now, so many times when we think of courage, we think of this idea of physical bravery.

     

    But there are many, many different forms that courage takes. And believe it or not, courage is not the absence of fear, okay? courage is walking through the fear, feeling the fear, and doing it anyway. And examples of courage can be something like following your dreams or launching your own business or signing up for a foreign language class or a watercolor color class even when you don’t believe you have any artistic ability. It might be standing up for what you believe in or stating an unpopular opinion. And you know, it’s doing the right thing sometimes even though There’s easier options. And so grit includes this characteristic of being courageous. You know, sometimes being courageous is having the guts to say no, or having the courage to ask for help, or having the courage to buy a swimsuit when you haven’t been in a swimsuit in 40 years and going to the indoor swimming pool, like I told you about in the last episode, one of my participants in my workshop, right? She had never known how to swim. And she was 60 years old when she first learned to swim. And so courage is one of the five characteristics when we’re talking about grit and grit is what you need in order to embrace this idea of a growth mindset versus staying so steeped in a fixed mindset where you are really limiting Your ability to achieve what you want to achieve. 

     

    The second trait that goes along with grit is conscientiousness. And conscientiousness, is defined as that personality trait of being thorough, being careful, or being vigilant, right? Being detail oriented. And conscientiousness, really is this idea of the desire to do a task. And to do it well, to do it efficiently, to be organized to not rest until the job is done. And it’s done. Right. And this really has to do with having a strong moral value system, right. People who want to do the right thing and their opinions and beliefs on a particular subject are pretty strong. So, a conscientious person is very dedicated to their work. They’re very focused laser 

    Kim Strobel 15:06 

    focused on their goal, they are very intense. And conscientious people are the type of people who really stick to their convictions. They have this kind of doggy eared determination, and I can see where that’s kind of just even, you know, played out in my life and, and in the world of being in business and having COVID hit. Knowing that like, a million times I wanted to give up, but, you know, I am doggedly determined to continue to serve my people and to show up in this way in my business. So if that means that I’ve had to pivot creatively, 54 times, then that’s what I’m going to do. The third characteristic of grit is perseverance. And of course, we hear this term all the time. But what does perseverance really mean? Sorry about that, folks. I’m podcasting with dogs in the house. 

     

    And so anyways, when we’re thinking about perseverance, I want you to think about Winston Churchill. Churchill who famously said, if you are going through hell keep going. And so perseverance is kind of synonymous with pain and suffering. But those with True Grit are really able to kind of flip their perspective on perseverance and they view this idea of struggle as kind of a doorway to fulfillment. Just like I was talking to you all about the productive struggle of when I am participating in a marathon. And it’s like really working hard and being able to endure pain and stuff. struggle, because you know, in the end, it is worth it. And so to persevere really means to start to begin, and then to continue stead fastly on the path towards any goal you’ve set. 

     

    And that many, many times, this is the difference between failure and success. So many times we give up on ourselves way too fast. And if you’re even going back to three or four podcast episodes where I was talking about working towards achieving a goal, and how we sometimes think that needs to be like these massive leaps that we make in our life, but really, what it is, is many times we don’t reach our goal because we cop out on ourselves too fast. We give up too quickly. And so perseverance is really understanding that you are going to work this is amazing. marathon, this is not a sprint, that you will continue to work, you will overcome obstacles you might feel defeat, you might fall back down. But you will continue to work at this because this is a long term goal, which means that you better value long term efforts, right, which is going to help you cultivate the drive and the sustainability, the passion and the courage and the stamina and the grit. 

     

    Characteristic number four is resilience. And to me, my 96 year old grandmother represents resilience to me and I kind of feel like our grandparents were really resistant because they had to be, they were forced to go through hard times they didn’t have an option out. Most of them were extremely poor. Most of them lived through a world war war or two, most of them went through the Great Depression and so My grandma Serena has this crazy mental toughness. I mean, the woman has been confined to her house now for nine months, because of COVID. She’s maybe left, three or four times, and she’s fine. She’s great. She thinks Life is good. She gets to watch church on TV every day. And she never even knew that was an option before COVID. And so she just kind of has this capacity about her to recover from difficulty. And so when we’re talking about resilience, we also know that it’s those who are really optimistic, who tend to show kind of greater resilience. They approach life with a little bit of a lighter heart or they’re able to laugh themselves or to reframe a situation. They’re able to kind of see and understand that this was necessary. It was part of their growth. Many times resilient people kind of have a strong moral compass or strong set of beliefs that really keeps them laser focused on their ability to achieve. And, you know, they kind of have this attitude that says, hey, this is hard. This is tough, this is painful. But here’s why I’m going to make it out of this. And so that is really resilience. And then the fifth one that she talks about his passion, and passion is that thing that driving force that creates a really deep sense of purpose. When you have passion, you have a clear sense of your values, your beliefs, how you want to show up in this world, how you want to be seen how you want to live. And people who are passionate understand that they’re going to be imperfect that this is part of the growing process, but they are so driven by their goals.

     

     They are so resilient, and so results oriented, that they don’t let anything, stop them. And so that’s kind of how I feel about when I am working with women. You know, in my coaching program, sometimes it is such a series of ups and downs and ups and downs and, you know, peeling the layers away and helping them kind of re build this foundation. And to be honest, it’s hard work. I tell the women who enter my program all of the time, if you think that I’m going to be your cheerleader, and I’m going to talk fluff, and just make you feel good about yourself. You’re completely wrong. Because I have never been a cheerleader and I’ll never be a cheerleader. I’m a coach. And what that means is I’m going to do what it takes. To get you the results that you’re looking for in your life, and I mean, massive results, I mean, completely rebuilding the foundation from which you stand on. And the reason I am so dedicated to that is because I have a passion for helping women step into their business. It is one of the things that I think about when I go to bed at night. It’s that I think about when I wake up in the morning, because I believe that every woman has the ability to sorry, there’s my dogs, again, I believe that every woman has the ability to step into her bigness if she’s willing to do the work on herself, which is why we talk a lot about doing the work from the inside out. 

     

    And so when we’re talking about all of these things, we’re talking about stretching and effort, right? And what I mean by this is, again, going back to growth mindset, this isn’t believing that we can all become anything that if we do put forth enough effort if we’re just greedy enough if we’re just resilient enough if we just have enough motivation that, you know, you can become the next, you know, Einstein or Beethoven or Picasso or Oprah Winfrey. But what we do know is that a person’s True Potential is really unknown, and that it’s impossible to foresee what we can accomplish when we have passion and courage and resiliency. And those five traits that we just talked about. That is when we know right there that we can create an increase our potential. You know, when I think about productive struggle, when I think about doing hard things when I think about grit being the determiner, not intelligence and not skill set and not talent, but grit being That determiner between someone who is successful and is able to accomplish their goals and their dreams. It really does.

     

    I really can understand why it comes back to grit and why it comes back to productive struggle. And I’m not sure if all of you know this. But when you think about Oprah Winfrey, I mean, she was fired from her first TV news acre job. She was told she was unfit for television, she was told that her grammar was not up to par for being on television. Can you imagine if Oprah had believed what the people at that TV station told her instead? She didn’t believe them even though she felt at that job. Even though she didn’t get that job. She truly stepped into productive struggle and she decided what her potential would be. She grew herself and it makes me think of the caterpillar and the butterfly and I’m going back to my fourth grade teaching days but you know, we would get these caterpillars with the students and we do this science lesson and I can’t even remember now if it takes 14 days for a caterpillar to turn into a butterfly. 

     

    But I will tell you if you’ve ever watched that process, it is painful, like the caterpillar as it’s like turning into a butterfly in the cocoon. It’s struggling. It’s every day it’s like making hardly any progress at all and it looks like it’s in pain. And the caterpillar keeps or the butterfly 

    keeps kind of taking its wings and trying so hard to emerge from the cat cocoon. And you know, you want to take like a little pin you want to cut like a little slit in the cocoon, you want to free the butterfly. Or sometimes I even just want to snip off the ends of the cocoon. I just want the darn butterfly to be able to get out and to free itself from that suffering. But if you To jump in and save the butterfly, the butterfly will be born with the deformed wings and it will die. Because the butterfly needed productive struggle in order to grow its wings. And if the caterpillar just chose to stay a caterpillar, if she decided that the chaos of metamorphosis would be too much for her to handle, she would never know what she could become. And that is what I want for all of you. I want you to learn to embrace productive struggle. I want you to understand that if you know you must do hard things in order to grow yourself, the harder the thing is, the bigger the leap in your life. 

     

    You will make and I want each and every one of us to grow our wings to truly peel back the layers and really see that big, beautiful butterfly that is waiting to emerge. And I have to tell you all, it’s probably one of the biggest gifts that I receive at the end of my coaching program when I am working with clients, because when they start to work with me at the beginning of the 90 days, and when they finish, I feel like they are not even the same person who entered my program. And what’s even more powerful is that the changes are just beginning. Like I revisit them like six months later a year later, two years later, and I see this massive ripple effect in their life because they learned how to step in to the Butterfly, they learned to believe in themselves. They built their confidence levels. They changed their money mindsets. They demanded more out of their relationships.

     

     They started their own business. I mean, I’m thinking back to Chris hammock, who just launched her own bookkeeping business. And I know a year ago when I started coaching her, she absolutely did not believe this could work. She didn’t believe she’d have the courage to leave her full time career. She didn’t believe she had the gifts to run a business. She didn’t believe the clients would find her. And I really worked with her to step into her business to see her value to build her confidence levels. And I just went to went to her open house a few months ago, and I was talking to her in a room and I was like, so Chris. You know, you launch this baby two weeks ago, what’s your client tail look like? And she goes, Kim, I’m already completely maxed out like, I can’t even take On any more clients and I was like, Girl, I told you, you could do this, I knew you could become the butterfly. And that, my friends is what I want for each and every one of you. I want you to step into the arena of bigness. I want you to understand that growing yourself from the inside out, is so very worth it.

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