Toughen Up

toughen up

toughen up

Last week's post How To Be a Rockstarreceived an interesting array of comments.  The whole point of the post was to spend a little time with the meaning of "No", and what very successful people have done to deal with it.

What was really stunning was the wide variety of reactions to me saying we'd do good being a little more like Taylor Swift.  Holy Moly, there are some strong opinions about Taylor!

Like me, many of you weren't aware before of the road that lead to her great success, many love her for the impact she is having on young generations and then there were some snarky comments about her lack of talent and creativity...

In perfect timing, I came across Bob Lefsetz Letter Grit.  I am a great friend of the concept of grit and I love the Wall Street Journal article that Lefsetz uses to talk about the relationship of grit and talent.  Here, University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth finds that "grit is usually unrelated or even negatively correlated with talent."  So if you are thinking about blaming your lack of talent or creativity for your lack of success, you have been proven wrong!

Prof. Duckworth believes that grit can be taught. Another important ingredient she mentions, is optimism.  The belief that one has the ability to change and improve.

The Wall Street Journal article takes it a few steps further.  It cites some compelling research to prove that we all need to toughen up a bit if we want to get anywhere, also as related to educating children and effective leadership.  I'm calling it the 8 steps to a successful mindset:

1. A little pain is good for you. Lots of practice and constructive, "sometimes even painful" criticism, create confidence.

2. Drill, baby, drill.  Rote learning, long discredited, is back for an agile, high functioning mind.

3. Failure is an option.  Or there is no such thing as failure, only feedback, and learning from it.

4. Strict is better than nice.  Explicit instructions apparently still trumps collaborative learning and discussion in terms of teaching styles.  CEO's also rank likability last as a trait of an outstanding leader.

5. Creativity can be learned.  Most creatives work hard and immerse themselves in a discipline before they create in that discipline.

6. Grit trumps talent.

7. Praise makes you weak...  Being told that we are smart makes us less confident than being told that we are "hard workers."

8.…while stress makes you strong.  Dealing with routine stresses makes you stronger, teaches resilience and how to pick ourselves back up if we do fail.

Clearly, these steps are not for everyone.  But believing in that you can change and improve, learning how to have grit, and getting back on the horse, is.