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February 24, 2015

Four Traits That Will Launch Your Teen Into Adulthood — Part 2: Grit

ScreamFree_Nov_2014_0048In yesterday’s post, we started a discussion of the traits that your teen needs to be successfully launched into adulthood. Those traits are resourcefulness, grit, curiosity, and self-discipline. Today’s discussion is on grit.

Grit: Firmness of character, indomitable spirit, toughness, resolution

For all of you parents who complain about how stubborn your kids are, you can now celebrate! They’re not stubborn; they’re gritty! Grit is that tough spirit, not in the sense of being mean, but in having a stick-to-it mentality. It’s the ability to be resolute in the face of opposition or failure. See how easy it is to take an annoying trait (to a parent) and transform it into a trait that is desirable?

We want our kids to have grit when they are facing the deadline on that hard assignment. We want them to have grit in pursuing a job when they’ve been turned down 14 times. We want them to have grit (one day) when their marriage is facing challenges.

We may not like their grittiness now when they need the last word with us, and we may wish they had more of it when it comes to cleaning their rooms, but we can celebrate the fact that they have it in them.

Maybe your child doesn’t seem to have any grit. Maybe they are quick to quit.

While we can’t make our kids be gritty, we can certainly talk about the value of the trait, give them opportunities to exhibit it and then be their biggest cheerleaders as they struggle in developing it. You can also inspire them by sharing this list of gritty individuals:

  • Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. In fact, the proposed park was rejected by the city of Anaheim on the grounds that it would only attract riffraff.
  • Jack London received six hundred rejection slips before he sold his first story.
  • Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he succeeded.
  • “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot … and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan
  • Winston Churchill repeated a grade during elementary school and, when he entered Harrow, was placed in the lowest division of the lowest class. Later, he twice failed the entrance exam to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He was defeated in his first effort to serve in Parliament. He became Prime Minister at the age of 62.

Perhaps the best way to wrap up this discussion of grit is with the words of Winston Churchill. Perhaps it was this kind of grittiness that resulted in the defeat of Nazism. “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense…. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”

Check back tomorrow for a discussion on the next rocket fuel: curiosity.

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