all posts tagged 'grit'

Dear Self; we need to talk about ambition

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

Like the programming path, the legible independent ambition path works for some people, but not you. The things you do when pushed to Think Big and Be Independent produce incidental learning at best, but never achieve anything directly. They can’t, because you made up the goals to impress other people. This becomes increasingly depressing, as you fail at your alleged goals and at your real goal of impressing people. 

So what do we do then? Give up on having goals? Only by their definition. What seems to work best for us is leaning into annoyance or even anger at problems in the world, and hate-fixing them. 

You’ve always hated people being wrong, and it turns out a lot of things can be defined as “wrong” if you have the right temperament. Women’s pants have tiny pockets that won’t fit my phone? Wrong. TSA eating hours of my life for no gain? Wrong. Medical-grade fatigue? Wrong. People dying of preventable diseases? Extremely wrong. And wrong things are satisfying to fix.

Yesterday, I was doing the dishes when I saw a mostly eaten yogurt cup laying in the sink.

As I started rinsing it out, I wondered whether I should throw it in the garbage or the recycling bin.

I thought about this quiz game that my county has on their website where they present various household items and you have to say whether it can go in the recycling, compost, or garbage.

The last time I played it, I found myself just getting mad.

Mad that I was getting questions wrong.

Mad that I can’t tell if this quiz is up to date with the latest recycling advice.

It occurred to me, while rinsing the cup, that I don’t really like learning most things for fun. I learn them because I like to ensure I have the best chance at complying with the rules.

I like passing through the hoops that were laid out for me.

I liked school so much because there was a clearly defined metric for success and failure.

But as I’m now 36 years old, success doesn’t really get defined in that way anymore.

I am glad this article surfaced in my Instapaper queue this morning, because I think it’s mostly the article I would’ve written for myself.

I really enjoyed the author’s advice on determining authentic motivation, viewing procrastination as a workers’ strike, and realizing that your taste will often outpace your abilities.

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The Weak Case for Grit

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

I’ve heard many interviews with Angela Ducksworth over the past few years, and I’ve always felt bad after each one.

Grit, as a trait, is something I feel like I possess relatively little of.

Maybe reading this article is just feeding into my own confirmation bias a bit, but the reason I wanted to share it is because it introduced a different measure to me: conscientious.

Conscientiousness is a component of the popular “OCEAN” model of personality, according to which we all have “big five” rather self-explanatory measurable traits: openness (to experience), conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. This model has left a large mark on personality psychology, in part because it raises useful questions that researchers have subsequently investigated, ranging from the extent to which variation in these traits is caused by nature versus nurture—one 2015 meta-analysis estimated the answer is about 40 percent genetics, 60 percent environment3—to whether and to what extent various traits correlate with success in work, relationships, and other settings.

Again, maybe I’m just hearing what I want to hear, but I’m very interested in learning more about the OCEAN model of personality.

Update: I just spent nearly 90 minutes convincing my kids to each eat half a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Maybe I do have some grit after all...

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How People Learn To Be Resilient

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

Human beings are capable of worry and rumination: we can take a minor thing, blow it up in our heads, run through it over and over, and drive ourselves crazy until we feel like that minor thing is the biggest thing that ever happened.

In a sense, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Frame adversity as a challenge, and you become more flexible and able to deal with it, move on, learn from it, and grow.

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What My Sled Dogs Taught Me About Planning for the Unknown

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

Planning for forever is essentially impossible, which can actually be freeing: It brings you back into the present. How long will this pandemic last? Right now, that’s irrelevant; what matters is eating a nourishing meal, telling someone you love them, walking your dog, getting enough sleep. What matters is that, to the degree you can, you make your own life sustainable every day.

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To Run My Best Marathon at Age 44, I Had to Outrun My Past

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

Can I go faster in my next marathon? I don't know, but I'll certainly try. All three of my kids, though, are realistic about what it means to try to get faster as the body gets weaker every day. They are excited about what they'll feel like at 18 or 28. They're climbing up the mountain as I'm walking down.

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Personal Renewal

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

Nothing is ever finally safe. Every important battle is fought and re-fought. We need to develop a resilient, indomitable morale that enables us to face those realities and still strive with every ounce of energy to prevail.

You may wonder if such a struggle -- endless and of uncertain outcome -- isn't more than humans can bear. But all of history suggests that the human spirit is well fitted to cope with just that kind of world.

It was very hard to pull a single quote out of this speech. If you’re struggling in life right now, reading this will help.

Edit from the future: I just realized I shared this twice in, like, two weeks haha! Here's the pull quote I used from the other sharing. I guess this is just a sign that this speech really is amazing.

If we are conscious of the danger of going to seed, we can resort to countervailing measures. At almost any age. You don’t need to run down like an unwound clock. And if your clock is unwound, you can wind it up again. You can stay alive in every sense of the word until you fail physically. I know some pretty successful people who feel that that just isn’t possible for them, that life has trapped them. But they don’t really know that. Life takes unexpected turns.

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