The Power of GRIT

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The Power of GRIT

The Power of GRIT

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My CrossFit Kids program is about teaching kids to take care of themselves and value fitness. I also believe in the intrinsic values and qualities sports can IMG_2662-300x200teach. Qualities I think are valuable in life and teaching kids and teens what they mean through sport was central to the mission of my fitness business. I come from an education background and I am always curious about the latest in education studies. I am fortunate to have some great connections with educators in the field of pedagogy and one such professor introduced me to the research done by Angela Lee Duckworth on GRIT. Her work in this field affirms what I have always believed, GRIT is a necessary quality for success.

I recently had a set back in my professional career and that experience got me thinking about GRIT again. I’ve always been willing to take risks. I went to college when my high school guidance counselor told me I wouldn’t make it. In fact, he was a little more harsh “girls like you don’t go to college.” I set out to prove him wrong. It took me 7 years to finish college while I worked a full time job. During that time I failed out of college once because I just wasn’t ready for the demands of school. I kept going back when everything kept pointing in the opposite direction. I believed that with enough hard work I could make it. I also had seen that poverty was a life I didn’t want to live.

When I applied to graduate school I didn’t know if I could get in. I didn’t have the best grades and my undergraduate school was by no means a top tier school.  Hunter College is part of the CUNY system of New York City and it caters to students on the margins. While I was there I had to take remedial education IMG_3865and learn the basics of high school math. I was in a classroom with other students working full time. There were mothers in the classroom who would bring their babies because they didn’t have anyone else to watch them. I loved it! I understood their story and their drive inspired me.

Dr. Duckworth’s research on GRIT has started important discourse amongst educators and psychologist. She looked at success from a motivational and psychological perspective and what she asked is: Who is successful and why? The quality that kept emerging time after time was GRIT. She noticed that IQ was not the predictor of grades for students and that professionals in sales were most successful if they had long-term passion and perseverance. Adults and kids with mental stamina and the ability “to stick with your future” is what made success because hard work for many years is what makes that “future a reality.” Angela Lee Duckworth

My recent set back got me thinking about my goals for the CrossFit kids program I started 4 years ago. It was reality time for me. I had the next 6 months all planned out and in one phone call everything changed. I was going to take my kids program to another affiliate gym. The new gym had hired me as a consultant for 3 months. I would then leave the kids program behind and move on in the summer to work with inner city kids in another program. Seemed perfect until I got the call that the new home for the kids program was pulling out of the contract. It was the eleventh hour and all I could do was crawl in bed and pull the sheets over my head. “NOT Happening!” I kept saying to myself.

Once I emerged I felt defeated. I called a few trusted people and asked for advice. These are some of their insights:

“Don’t stay in the grey area for to long trying to figure out other peoples motives. Make a new plan and save your kids program.” 
“You started this kids program when no one else was doing this in Boston. Keep it going.”
“Never give up your kids program!”
“This is not a failure but perhaps the best blessing you can’t see right now.”

I started to figure out a new plan. I also started to do what I do when life doesn’t make sense. Work out more and read research on education. I looked at Dr. Duckworth’s research on GRIT from a new perspective.

gym5I took Dr. Duckworth’s GRIT test. I thought I would be the grittiest person in Boston. However, a 3.38 on a scale of 1-5 is not so gritty for someone as gritty as me. I’m a survivor for sure but perhaps at this point my gutsy determination was not enough to pull me through the latest set back. Perhaps what’s still missing is the last part of GRIT that I’m in the middle of trying to figure out—working hard over many years to make my future a reality. The future of the kid and teen program I started four years ago is just not finished yet. I was giving it up just as it was getting to the next level.

Dr. Duckworth has noted, people with GRIT don’t look at set backs or failure as a permanent condition. I liked her message, when we fail we have to be able to start over with lessons learned and find a way to be better. I learned a huge lesson~ Never give up my kids program! I was ready to hand it over to other people. Nice people, I’m not even upset that they pulled out at the last minute. I get to redo this and get it right. I get the opportunity to take this program to the next level. I don’t know what the future will bring but I’m not ready to give up.

I have always believed in the power of GRIT. I think it is a quality worth teaching kids and teens through the sport of fitness that we have all come to love. I continue to learn through my own CrossFit training about my strengths and weaknesses as a person. What I value: Honesty, Hard Work, Giving Back to Those Less Fortunate, and Fortitude, to name just a few. And what I would never do: cheating, stealing and cutting corners. The CrossFit community is full of amazing comeback stories of courage and resolve. This is my little story about getting a second chance to get it right.

How about you? Got GRIT? Is CrossFit a valuable tool in helping you become a little more gritty? 

Take the GRIT TEST

Amanda Cunningham liked this post

1 Comment:


  • By Linh Nguyen 22 Apr 2014

    Tina,

    Reading this FIRED me up with inspiration! As a fellow educator, I found my passion for the field when I worked with under served students while in college. I love your story, what you stand for and believe in and your passion behind the CF Kids program. Your determination and (gritty) drive is admirable and you have strong number of believers standing by you in support!

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