Last month we talked a little about the science of persistence, what it takes to make your persistence, well, persist.
It turns out there is much research into what makes us persistent, to exhibit true grit, so we can use this knowledge to improve our likelihood of staying the course, even in the face of adversity.
In my quest to examine the nature of persistence in the gritty real world, I did what I always do: I turned to my
zen master gurus kids.
If I am to be completely honest, my kids so far haven’t exhibited much in the way of sporting accomplishment (sorry kids, but you probably won’t be going to the Olympics any time soon, unless Minecrafting and making Glitzy Globes is admitted), but when they set their minds to it, they are able to surprise me.
This is the story of Coco and the Cartwheel… Getting gritty in the garden.
Coco had been going to gymnastics for a few months when seemingly, she woke up one day and decided she wanted to learn how to cartwheel. (In the interests of full disclosure I will admit that I have never performed what could be termed a successful cartwheel, so other than a knowledge of the basic biomechanics involved, I could be of no real assistance. That’s right: I have never done a cartwheel. I’ll not be mocked.)
“Mum how do you do a cartwheel?” she asked me seventy-three million times a day, “I really, really want to do a cartwheel. Do you think I’ll ever be able to do a cartwheel? I think I’m gonna do a cartwheel soon.”
With absolutely no desire to hurtle through the grass upside-down, I asked her why she was willing to risk breaking bones and vases for something, (let’s be honest here) is essentially useless.
“I love the idea of it. I love that I can’t do it yet, but I know that I will one day, and then all of us girls at school can cartwheel all around the oval,” she said, hopping from one foot to another, popping to get back to her training. Then she stopped, “I know Mum, why don’t you video me with that slo-mo thing on your phone, so I can see what I’m doing?” I smiled inwardly, knowing what I knew about the science of grit: interest, deliberate practice, purpose, hope and belonging. Or in in8 model terms: Why, What, How, Who with, and When? She had it all.
Over the next few weeks Coco practised, practised, practised. She fell onto her head and her bottom, she bruised her shins and dented my walls, and accidentally kicked the cat in the head, as she careened through the lounge room. Most days I was cajoled into ‘rating’ her efforts out of ten, and one lazy autumn afternoon, her Nan watched her do 57 attempts without stopping. Until finally, somehow (grit maybe?) it clicked. She went from doing dodgy, splay-legged, upside down cockroach flips, to properly executed, graceful cartwheels. She jumped for joy, as did the cat and the chippy husband (Think: plaster walls), and shouted, “You ripper, I can do them. I’ve mastered them…Yippee… Now I’m going to google ‘how to do a round-off’ and nail those too. I can’t wait!”
Oh my. Give me strength. Or grit*.
*If by grit you mean a glass of wine and a nice lie down.