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Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, had a strong intuition that Grit is enhanced by participating in extra-curricular activities. There are countless studies suggesting that kids who are involved in extra-curricular activities have better grades, higher self-esteem, and are positioned to do better in their life in general. She points out that activities led by a demanding and supportive adult, such as a coach or teacher, “are designed to cultivate interests, practice, purpose and hope.”  So dance studios, dojos, and swimming clubs are breeding grounds for Grit.

Providing children with the combination of challenge (mastering something new) and intrinsic motivation (something that they are motivated to do on their own) seems to be the optimal reality to foster Grit. She points out that remaining involved in an activity for a minimum of two years allows a person to see improvement in their performance. Therefore dedicating enough time to experience mastery is a crucial component in the process of developing Grit.

Duckworth also points out that activities are a way for youth to practice and to develop passion and perseverance – all crucial to achieve long-term goals.

Duckworth states that while Harvard admits brilliant students, they will also admit students that have demonstrated a commitment to pursue an activity they love with discipline and hard work. It is believed that the skills and attitude developed in the pursuit of an activity can be transferred to other life experiences.

Follow Through Requires Grit

Duckworth mentions Warren Willingham’s research. His research emphasizes the importance of follow-through. “The follow-through rating involved evidence of purposeful, continuous commitment to certain types of activities (in high school) versus sporadic efforts in diverse areas.” Duckworth suggests that follow-through requires Grit and simultaneously builds it.

The Hard Thing Rule

In her family, Duckworth implemented the “Hard Thing Rule”. Everyone has to do a hard thing (something that takes deliberate practice).  No one is allowed to quit until the season is over or on a bad day and each person gets to pick their hard thing. This supports deliberate practice, intrinsic motivation and follow-through.

To learn more about Angela Duckworth and Grit, visit her website at angeladuckworth.com

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