This week I’ve been reading Angela Duckworth’s New York times best seller “Grit”. Reading this, I can't help but reflect on struggling through elementary school because I didn’t have natural “talent”.
Before I get in to that, let’s talk about Grit. The premise of this book is that in all possible circumstances the quality of “grit” (the intersection of perseverance and passion) is the single best predictor of whether people choose to do hard things, stick with them and have success. It predicts who will have business success and who will win the national spelling bee. It's a resounding better predictor over EVERYTHING - talent, previous success, integrity, wealth. Everything.
So elementary school. I really struggled. I didn’t read when other kids read. I was abysmal at timed math tests and to top it all I had an eye-path. While other kids learned, I more or less sat there and would arrive home with mountains of homework because I didn’t get anything done while I was actually at school. I had learning tests, went to learning assistance all to find out that for the most part I was fine and even far beyond average in a lot of tested categories. I just learned “differently.” At the time, I took this as the perfect excuse to be behind in school. “I learn differently” but my mother did not. I resented her for it then and am so grateful for it now.
My mom decided that I wasn’t allowed to be behind and through the effort of herself, my dad and my brother (excelled in school and learned quickly and effortlessly), my team/family was going to help me through. It was a group effort to get me through my hours of homework. They’d take me through flashcards, at home spelling tests, talked me through the settling of Canada (shout out to Canadian social studies), and hammered home the difference between “qui” and “que.” I was beyond frustrated when I couldn’t understand and looked at my “Laurel-gets-good at-school” to-do lists hopelessly.
Why couldn’t my mom just let me be bad at things? Why couldn’t she let off the hook? I had a real named issue. “I learn differently.” She believed in hard work, that's why. She refused to believe I wasn’t capable and knew effort trumps talent. Essentially she believed in grit and through years of family homework sessions and late night math quizzes after dance practice, I learned to believed in it too. By the time I graduated high school, I was on the A honor roll, effort honor roll, took honors classes, won academic and athletic awards, had a full academic scholarship for university and was formally relabeled as “gifted” (whatever that really means?).
So in the spirit of not letting myself off the hook I want to be awesome at a lot of things one of which is writing. I really admire people that seem to find it so easy to put their thoughts in words. With spotty blog posts and half-filled journals, I started to assume I’m just not like that. And I’m not…..YET. I could decide that I’m not talented at it, make too many typos, am not concise enough and it’d be the perfect reason not to try.
OR I could practice.
I’m using the #the100dayproject to keep me honest.
Day 1, over and out.