Thoughts on Grit and Growth

During my morning commute yesterday, I watched Angela Duckworth’s TedTalk on grit, passion, and (academic) performance. She shared that after years of teaching mathematics she noticed that the best performing students were not always the smartest. She conducted research at numerous organizations and found that having passion and commitment to long-term goals, also known as, was the characteristic that best indicated future academic success.

This brought to mind the students in my development fellowship cohort. We are a hodgepodge group of ages, ethnicities, prior career experiences, and natural strengths; but one thing we all have in common is passionate determination to become developers. We’ve self studied, applied to program after program again and again ( in some cases the current program we’re in) in our hunger to get access to structured coding education that we could afford.

Lately I’ve been failing so often in my first, second, and third attempts to process new programming concepts (cough…linked lists…cough), that I have struggled at times with self-doubt and feeling mentally inadequate. Angela’s brief explanation of growth mindset, that failure/struggle is how the brain improves and that when children were taught this concept they no longer viewed failure as a forever state and instead a temporary one that was just a part of learning, really piqued my interest. Further reading about Growth Mindset distilled the theory even further. If you believe talent is something you either have or you don’t, then you have a fixed mindset. If instead you aim to learn, invite challenges, and see every failure as a potential to develop new skills, you have a growth mindset.

I plan to adopt this way of thinking as I continue to climb the mount everest that is my development fellowship. I’m sure there there will be many “failure to growth potential” transformation moments to come, but if I can continue to put diligent effort into scaling it, proficiency awaits me at the peak.

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