My Summary & Thoughts of Angela Duckworth’s Harvard Business Review Talk on Finding Your Grit during a Crisis

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash You can find the full 35-minute talk by Angela Duckworth on YouTube now at the following link (also in the references below): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQN2BhsPRhU

I recently watched the Harvard Business Review talk by Angela Duckworth about finding your grit during a crisis. I feel that this most correlates with our module in the class so far about handling stress at work. It’s all about being resilient during a time of high stress like the pandemic.

Angela Duckworth is a professor of psychology at The University of Pennslyvania, and she studies grit. She also published an extremely popular book called, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”, and she has been popularized as well by her TED talk. Grit is the perseverance and passion over a long term time frame for a goal. Duckworth believes this is the number one thing that separates people who achieve success and those who don’t. Grit is most associated with resilience in positive psychology.

Duckworth talks about the emotions during a crisis, and how it’s normal to experience stress and emotions in a variety right now. She says to allow yourself to experience them and to know this is ok. This is neat to learn and it goes back to understanding our natural reactions to stress. This is all human nature. This ties directly with the “Coping Strategies for Success” article we read when it said, “Give yourself permission to fall apart, feel rotten, and cry” as well as “Don’t berate yourself for having these reactions. After all, they are signs of your humanity.” All of what she says in the talk is actually giving people permission to feel bad and icky about what is going on and normalizing that this is totally acceptable, normal, and okay. She says also that what can help during the crisis is we can choose to focus on our positive response to stress and the crisis vs. choosing to be focused on what happened and the negative aspects of the crisis. We need to focus on what we’ve learned from the crisis and continue to use these our lessons to improve our life and our stress response.

Another thing she discussed is goal setting, and how those goals tend to be hierarchical… so, when we quit goals, it may not be that we’re falling off course but rather helping our higher-level purpose and goal in life. She says we need a higher-level purpose to help with grit. With so much uncertainty with the pandemic, it is really hard to have grit and be resilient about hierarchical goals, however. So, we need to pivot…. Try to do something different than normal, but that will still lead to your higher-level goal. I would say this is comparable to thinking outside of the box because of the new situations the crisis has provided us. It’s an opportunity to try different things, but still, work towards are higher-level goals. All of these things she said directly relate to what the “Coping Strategies for Success” article said, “Commit to something personally meaningful and important every day” as well as “Take initiative for action when it is appropriate”. This is an appropriate time TO take action is what her point is. You just need to figure out how maybe do that a little differently than normal, but you’ll still be moving towards your higher-level goals.

In the workplace, she says company’s that want a culture of drive and perseverance should also have a hierarchical set of goals. Organizations need to have clarity about their mission statements as well as their goals and objectives to achieve their mission. The same is true for individuals. This helps with resiliency and grit. Every day, management needs to keep driving about what the mission, goals, and objectives are and how their part fits into the greater whole. It’s not fine enough to have an annual meeting and talk about the organization’s mission statement and expect everyone to remember everything from the meeting.

Lastly, another thing she said which correlates to our readings about coping with stress is she said balance is key to a happy and wholesome life. Grit isn’t grinding all the time. She says even the most successful people, they find the time to turn off and have balance. This is what our module about coping with stress talks about. We all need ways to relax and have recreation.

Overall, what I learned most from the talk by Duckworth about finding grit during a crisis is to understand it’s okay to feel bad right now, but you can and should still continue on your path towards your higher-level goals by using the crisis to do things you wouldn’t normally do in order to keep moving forward. Also, I learned that companies who want to encourage grit and be gritty as a company culture should reinforce their mission and the goal and objectives of achieving the mission just as anyone should do individually. Management needs to reinforce and ensure its employees grasp and are passionate about how they fit into the large picture and higher-level goals in the organization. This is fundamental to building a culture of grit, resiliency, and perseverance. We should be, as well, focusing on how we reacted positively from the crisis vs. remaining stuck on the negative part that this happened and the awful pieces of everything. It’s good to keep a positive outlook and keep an eye out for learning opportunities EVEN during a crisis. This will help all of us and society to grow and continue to achieve our dreams and desired outcomes.

We’re all in this together, and there are clearly ways we can use the crisis to be a positive tool for us and find our grit in the process. Thanks, Angela Duckworth for your wisdom during these trying times.

References:

And… “Coping Strategies for Stress” article from our Module 10 homework

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