Do You Have Grit?

There’s a good deal of talk these days about what it takes to make it in the fiercely competitive job market. Whether you are looking for a job or working full time, there has been a shift in the employment landscape, which suggests that your jobs could just disappear, and you would be put in the position of starting all over again. This shift was and is an outgrowth of the economic recession, which started in December 2007. According to the Department of Labor, roughly 8.7 million jobs were shed from February 2008 to February 2010 and the GPD contracted by 51%, making the Great Recession the worst since the Great Depression.

Times were tough for a lot of people and some experts say that the Great Recession banished the long term employee paradigm. Why? According to the Economist’s View in August 2015, of those who lost their jobs during the Great Recession, only about 50% were employed in January 2010 and only about 75% of those were reemployed in full time jobs.

Further, Henry S. Farber used data from the Displaced Worker Survey 1984-2014 to analyze both short and long term effects of the Great Recession and he concluded that the effects (in all terms) have  been particularly severe. “Most importantly, workers laid off in the Great Recession and its aftermath have been much less successful at finding new jobs, particularly full-time jobs, than those laid off in earlier periods.The findings suggest that job loss since the Great Recession has had severe adverse consequences for employment and earnings.” –  Henry S. Faber.

Years before the Great Recession, a book called The Psychology of Self-Esteem was published in 1969 and set off a wave of teachers and parents telling their children that they were essentially perfect. The United States became a culture where every child received a trophy or a blue ribbon, even if they had failed miserably in their event or task. An entire generation of helicopter parents was born – coming to the rescue of their children, instead of letting them fight their own battles and deal with their own failures. This way of thinking and acting has failed our children (who are now adults) miserably.

Recent research suggests that this type of praise or “rescuing” has been particularly damaging, as children do not have the grit or determination to withstand difficult times. They were raised to believe that authority figures would just “handle it.” So you can imagine how those effected by the Great Recession have fared emotionally or otherwise.

Today, we are seeing a new trend from psychologists who report that it’s vital that both young and old learn what it means to rely on their own abilities – faults, failures and all. The good news, according to New York Times best selling authors, Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval ,who have spent countless hour studying and compiling research and interviewing  those people who possess traits, which collectively can be defined as grit, say that grit can be learned.

Determination, Motivation, Success Concept - I Will

“Grit in psychology is a positive, non cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve respective objective. This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie within a gritty individual’s path to accomplishment, and serves as a driving force in achievement realization. Commonly associated concepts within the field of psychology include “perseverance”, “hardiness”, “resilience”, “ambition”, “need for achievement” and “conscientiousness”. – Wikipedia

In their book Grit to Great,  Koval and Thaler site research based evidence that clearly illustrates that the possession of grit in one’s character is a much bigger predictor of financial and personal success than one’s IQ, overall intelligence or social class/social standing.

Why is this big news? For too long, people have been laboring under the notion that their lives are determined by both their intelligence and where they come from. While it’s impossible to predict or necessarily plan for events like the Great Recession, there is comfort in knowing that there is something you can do about it. Your overall success in life is largely determined on your reaction and/or action to it.  You may never return to your former glory after suffering the effects of something like the Great Recession.  But you can dream a new dream and make new plans. More importantly, you can never, ever give up. The question is, do you have grit? Moreover, do you want it?

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