In our first blog series, we will discuss Angela Duckworth’s popular book Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success and how it may impact high performance. Our intent is to provide useful information in each blog posting; however, the entire series of blogs devoted to the book will be the most helpful in terms of understanding how the book applies to college athletics. While our hope is this blog series provides you with ideas to apply to your own performance, it will certainly not do the book justice, so we encourage you to read the book, and/or view her TED talk
One of our most basic human needs is to fit in, and if the people around us are gritty, we will by default, either:
(1) become grittier,
(2) feel uncomfortable because we are acting against group norms of grit, or
(3) choose another environment that is more in line with how we actually want to think and behave.
The “social multiplier effect” emphasizes how contagious attitudes are. In short, how we act affects others’ attitudes and behaviors, which will then influences our own attitudes and behaviors. If we are all acting gritty, grit will grow, and positively affect our culture. If we allow a culture of merely going through the motions, grit will be harder to maintain.
Think about your current team attitudes and beliefs. What attitudes and beliefs do you see as being promoted by the group? Which ones do you feel encouraged to enact? Which ones are true to who you are?
Team dynamics are one of the most fascinating aspects of being a sport psychology consultant. How an athlete behaves is typically reflective of what the team values. If team norms are most consistent with being gritty, teammates will either become grittier or feel uncomfortable because they aren’t behaving in a way that is consistent with the group. They may talk the talk, but they aren’t willing to walk the walk. This, too, can be contagious. Being gritty isn’t the easy thing to do – it’s hard! If you want to grow your grittiness, you have to model it and surround yourself with others who do the same. In theory, this seems obvious. In practice, there are many reasons why team norms often trump a student-athlete’s grittiness.
Most high school or club athletes don’t live with their teammates. They may spend an incredible amount of time traveling, practicing, and competing; however, they typically go home to their parents or guardians’ house, where they dictate the rules and standards. Depending on the family structure, these norms may or may not reflect a culture of grit. These attitudes and behaviors don’t automatically change when that athlete steps on campus – they bring these attitudes with them but the majority typically rules. In college, student-athletes often live and socialize exclusively with their teammates. If one student-athlete’s default attitude is to be gritty, ideally, this will rub off on teammates. However, this student-athlete’s teammates are not particularly gritty, that will rub off too. We will emulate the characteristics of the people we are around, so choose wisely who you are surrounding yourself with!
Much of our own work in college athletics is with teams as they explore their own team norms and learn how to be deliberate in creating a positive team culture.
We will offer some of these strategies in our lesson focused on how to be a good teammate so you or the student-athlete in your life can set the tone for being gritty.
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