Over the course of my career, I have consistently taken advantage of continuing education and professional development opportunities.
The amount of educational opportunities has expanded over the past 15 years or so from books and in-person trainings to podcasts, webinars, ebooks and videos. One video program that is particularly popular is TED talks, videos made from presentations given at one of the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conferences.
I came across one of these TED talk videos a few weeks ago that featured psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth. Her topic was grit and its relation to success. Grit, not to be confused with grits, that delectable southern delight and one of my favorites, is the propensity to stick with a long-term goal and see it to fruition.
Duckworth caught my attention immediately when she stated that, when she was a teacher, it seemed to be those students willing to stay in school and keep working toward the goal of graduation who actually graduated. Here’s the kicker – it applied to all students who “hung in there.” In other words, she noticed it seemed possible to outwork one’s perceived IQ.
Hallejuah! For the first time in my life, someone was saying something that made sense of, well, my career. It’s been well documented throughout many of my nearly 100 Pulse articles that there was a time, especially from K-12, when I was not the best student to have ever graced the Polk County public school system. As a matter of fact, I am convinced that had I been born 10 years later, some doctor would have tried to put me on some type of medication to keep me from staring out the classroom window or to help “settle me down.”
While most school teachers could moonlight as psychologists, Duckworth decided to become an actual psychologist and study this hard working, determination or “grit” theory as it relates to success.
In an amazing study that she conducted among high school students, Duckworth found that things like family income, test scores, physical ability or good looks were not the most likely indicators of who would graduate. It was determination and will. It was grit.
Her study also showed that talent doesn’t make one gritty. There are plenty of talented people who do not follow up on their commitments. I’m reminded of the star athlete in high school who chose the party route rather than the tough road of hard work and perseverance and never lived up to his full potential. He had the talent but lacked the grit. Her study found that grit is usually unrelated to talent. Wow!
When I think of grit, I cannot help but think of our members. From the owners of care centers to the nurses, administrators, maintenance crew and beyond, the caregivers in the long term care sector are among the grittiest I have ever been privileged to know.
Hurricanes, terribly cumbersome new regulations, greedy trial attorneys and other hazards litter the landscape of long term care, but you remain. You remain faithful and loyal to those entrusted to your care, and you remain so with love, kindness, professionalism and a grit that would make a marine give you a standing ovation.
Thanks to your grit, you are able care for our greatest generation with the dignity they deserve.
Because of your grit, and this is quite personal for me, you were able to deliver excellent care to my 95-year old grandmother in her final months of life, allowing her to pass with grace and dignity (special thanks to Suwannee Health and Rehabilitation Center). You were able to rehabilitate my father-in-law when it looked like long term care or assisted living might be his only option. He is moving back home the week I am writing this article after receiving excellent rehabilitation from major, life-changing surgery (special thanks to Opis Highlands Lake Center).
I am grateful for your grit, your determination and your desire to run the race well.
Next time you’re feeling down, just remember my new motto and feel free to adopt and adjust to your situation. It is as follows, “I may not be the smartest, and I may not be the prettiest, but you can bet your bottom-dollar that I will always be the grittiest.”