Grit: The secret of success

Success is quite a difficult concept. It’s incredibly personal but whether you measure success by wealth, quality of service, or your relationships with other people, it seems  that the ability to stick at a task is crucial. Some people call this grit. In assessing the success or failure of West Point graduates, researches identified “grit” as one of the required characteristics. Grit is about having what some researchers call an “ultimate concern”–a goal you care about so much that orders and structures almost everything you do. Grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.

I suppose an issue with this is you can be gritty in the  pursuit of a goal or an idea, but be a lazy total toss pot in other areas.

Angela Duckworth is acknowledged as a leading grit researcher

Here are  some of her ideas in her own words

This little test may  help you consider how gritty you are. Im not sure if you should see this as an overall personality test, or consider a specific aspect of your life. Maybe try both.

I have some of my clients use this scale when assessing their commitment to fitness, olympic weight lifting, gymnastics, diet and first aid provision.

Short Grit Scale

 

Directions for taking the  short Grit Scale:

Please respond to the following 8 items. Be honest – there are no right or wrong answers!

1. New ideas and projects sometimes distract me from previous ones.*

  •   Very much like me
  •   Mostly like me
  •   Somewhat like me
  •   Not much like me
  •   Not like me at all

    2. Setbacks don’t discourage me.

  •   Very much like me
  •   Mostly like me
  •   Somewhat like me
  •   Not much like me
  •   Not like me at all

    3. I have been obsessed with a certain idea or project for a short time but later lost interest.*

  •   Very much like me
  •   Mostly like me
  •   Somewhat like me
  •   Not much like me
  •   Not like me at all

    4. I am a hard worker.

  •   Very much like me
  •   Mostly like me
  •   Somewhat like me
  •   Not much like me
  •   Not like me at all

    5. I often set a goal but later choose to pursue a different one.*

  •   Very much like me
  •   Mostly like me
  •   Somewhat like me
  •   Not much like me
  •   Not like me at all

    6. I have difficulty maintaining my focus on projects that take more than a few months to complete.*

  •   Very much like me
  •   Mostly like me
  •   Somewhat like me
  •   Not much like me
  •   Not like me at all

7. I finish whatever I begin.

  •   Very much like me
  •   Mostly like me
  •   Somewhat like me
  •   Not much like me
  •   Not like me at all

    8. I am diligent.

    •   Very much like me
    •   Mostly like me
    •   Somewhat like me
    •   Not much like me
    •   Not like me at all

 SCORING

For questions 2, 4, 7 and 8 assign the following points:

5 = Very much like me
4 = Mostly like me
3 = Somewhat like me
2 = Not much like me
1 = Not like me at all

For questions 1, 3, 5 and 6 assign the following points:

1 = Very much like me
2 = Mostly like me
3 = Somewhat like me
4 = Not much like me
5 = Not like me at all

 

Add up all the the points and divide by 8.

The maximum score on this scale is 5 (extremely gritty), and lowest score on this scale is 1 (not at all gritty)

 

Grit Scale citation

 

Duckworth, A.L, & Quinn, P.D. (2009). Development and validation of the Short Grit Scale (Grit- S). Journal of Personality Assessment, 91, 166-174. http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~duckwort/images/Duckworth%20and%20Quinn.pdf

Duckworth, A.L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M.D., & Kelly, D.R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9, 1087-1101. http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~duckwort/images/Grit%20JPSP.pdf

 

This blog article was drawn from an uncredited online PDF “Grit-8-item.pdf”

 

My name is Andrew Stemler and I’m a london based personal fitness and first aid trainer. You can contact me here andrew@andrewstemler.com

90/90 Hip lift and balloon fun: the beginning

Most hardcore breathing athletes do “Balloon Breathing”  hanging off a pull up bar. As a matter of history, here is the original 90/90 hip lift breathing drill that’s discussed by Boyle et al ( 2010)

  1. Lie on your back,  feet flat on the wall, knees and hips bent at a 90- degree angle.
  2. Place a 4-6 inch ball between your knees. I’m tough so I use a nice cushion.
  3. Place your right arm above your head and a balloon in your left hand.
  4. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, performing a pelvic tilt so that your tailbone is raised slightly off the mat. Keep your back flat on the mat. Do not press your feet flat into the wall instead dig down with your heels. You should feel your hamstrings “engage”
  5. Breath in through your nose and slowly blow out into the balloon.
  6. Pause three seconds with your tongue on the roof of your mouth .
  7. Without pinching the neck of the balloon and keeping your tongue on the roof of your mouth, take another breath in through your nose. ( the first few times you do this is slightly tricky)
  8. Slowly blow out  into the balloon again.
  9. Do not strain your neck or cheeks .
  10. The original instructions say “After the fourth breath in, pinch the balloon neck and remove it from your mouth.Let the air out of the balloon”. Frankly, i just open my mouth and let it fly around the room ( I have a pile of balloons to hand so I don’t have to move to get another one. My girlfriend says this is  annoying.
  11. Relax and repeat the sequence 4 more times.

 

You can checkout more materials at the Postural Rehabilitation Organisation

 

90/90 breathing was designed to optimise breathing and enhance posture and core stability. The idea being this would improve improve function and/or decrease pain (Boyle et al., 2010, ).

The 90/90 rests on a concept  called the zone of apposition (ZOA) of the diaphragm, which is the part of the muscle shaped like a dome.  In simple terms “MORE DOME GOOD”

If the ZOA is decreased the ability of the diaphragm to inhale sufficient air in a correct way is diminished.  This affects the diaphragms ability to build up  intra abdominal pressure.  If the ZOA is decreased The transversus abdominis activation also decreases with a smaller ZOA (Boyle et al, 2010), which again affects lumbar stabilisation ability .

The set up of 90/90  aligns the pelvic floor and diaphragm in parallel. This combats any upper and lower cross syndromes, and lumbar extension. This results in  the core muscles being fired which increases the ZOA and adds to core stability. As an exercise in the obvious,  dysfunctional breathing and physical activity  takes up the main breathing muscles and throws the load on to smaller muscles and makes life harder. However, according to Lukas  (2018) there is little evidence in terms of studies to support this, although it sounds like a reasonable assumption. However,  the Lukas  study does seem to caste doubt on 90/90 as core stabilisation method

“Taken together, the 90/90 breathing seems rather ineffective as a general core activation for a normal workout.” (Lukas , 2018 page 35). but checkout these drills by Buteyko and these other breathing drills

I think some attention to basic breathing drills is probably useful, but its more relevant if you obviously have a breathing disfunction .

Why not practice on the tube  (not with the balloon ,obviously)

 

References

Alverdes, Lukas  (2018) .Short-term effects of 90/90 breathing with ball and balloon on core stability. Halmstad University

 

Boyle, K. L., Olinick, J., & Lewis, C. (2010). The value of blowing up a balloon. North American journal of sports physical therapy: NAJSPT, 5(3), 179.

 

Some breathing practice

Here are some useful methods to improve your breathing.

  1. Pursed lips

According to the Cleveland Clinic, pursed lip breathing has a range of benefits:

  • Improves ventilation
  • Releases trapped air in the lungs
  • Keeps the airways open longer and decreases the work of breathing
  • Prolongs exhalation to slow the breathing rate
  • Improves breathing patterns by moving old air out of the lungs and allowing for new air to enter the lungs
  • Relieves shortness of breath
  • Causes general relaxation

Practicing this technique 4 to 5 times each day  can help.

  • Keep your mouth closed, and take a deep breath through your nose hold for 2 seconds
  • Put your lips together and blow through them. (some say like a whistle, but don’t whistle. It’s annoying.) This is known as “pursing” your lips.
  • While continuing to keep your lips pursed, slowly breathe out by counting to 4. Don’t try to force the air out, but instead breathe out slowly through your mouth.

2) CO-ORDINATED BREATHING

Co-ordinated breathing uses 2 steps:

  • Inhale through your nose before beginning an exercise.
  • While pursing your lips, breathe out through your mouth during the most strenuous part of an exercise.

 

3) DEEP BREATHING

Deep breathing flushes your lungs and makes sure you have  expelled all that dank horrible air that been skulking in the outer reaches of  chest.  You  can now  breathe in more fresh air, accept if you are in London, where its packed full of pollution.

Here’s how to practice deep breathing:

  • Sit or stand with your elbows slightly back. This allows your chest to expand more fully, but you are still breathing through your Diaphragm.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose.
  • Hold your breath as you count to 5.
  • Release the air via a slow, deep exhale, through your nose, until you feel your inhaled air has been released.

 

4)THE DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING

The diaphragm is an important muscle involved in the work of breathing. People with breathing “issues” tend to rely more on the accessory muscles of the neck, shoulders, and back to breathe, rather than on the diaphragm. Diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing helps to retrain this muscle to work more effectively. Here’s how to do it:

  • While sitting or lying down with your shoulders relaxed, put a hand on your chest and place the other hand on your tummy
  • Breath in through your nose for 2 seconds, feeling your tummy move upwards. You’re doing the activity correctly if your stomach moves more than your chest.
  • Purse your lips and breathe out slowly through your mouth, pressing lightly on your stomach. This will enhance your diaphragm’s ability to release air.
  • Repeat the exercise as you are able to.

 

Get stuff done

One of the hardest things is making your day productive rather than being sucked into  a fire storm of trivia and interruptions.

Whilst life makes it difficult to detail your plan every day, its probably as well to get some targets and tasks set the night before.

The Lee Harvey Method is worth considering. Its stupidly simple and basic

  1. At the end of today,  write down the six most important things you need to do tomorrow.  Nothing more.  6 only.
  2. Put  those six items in order of their  real  importance.
  3. Tomorrow focus and finish the 1st task . Finish it.
  4. Then move on to the second task, finish it. Any tasks let, carry them forward till tomorrow
  5. Revisit this process every working day.

Food shopping: start on the high street

I have this terribly ambivalent relationships with shops. I passionately want to buy food from quaint market stalls, but frequently end up  buying second class ” fruit and  veg” from  stalls that  are obviously not as good quality as  Tesco or other bigger stores. Sure it looks cheaper, but its normally on the turn and everytime I shop at my corner shop, or a small stall, I regret it. Everytime. ( I think its a family trait that we think we are getting  a bargin)

foodies rightly praise all sorts of small shops. But Let me make it clear that there is nothing in the word “small” that guarantees quality or good service

The nasty thing is, that everytime I shop at Tesco, I seem to get very good fresh food at quite good prices. No one is anxiously  trying to palm rotting stuff off on me. ( In the late 1970′s I was a student green grocer for a holiday Job. It was your job to  distribute the rotten food among the good to get ride of it)  Im passionately in favour of small enterprises, but that was always on the basis that they could actually supply extra quality: Many small food outlets dont deliver this quality. Obviously I love properly organised farmers markets, and who hasnt fallen in love with
Bries pickles.

Sure, Tesco, and the big supermarket world, should be told off for selling row upon row of what we would call “rubbish”, but for the range of meats, fresh fruit and vegetables, its very, very ,useful.  I do disapprove of the fact they deliver stuff, I think you should go down and  suffer with the rest of us, but thats probably just my age. But then  isn’t  every shop is just a phone  call to a cab company away from  a home delivery service. after all, even the unbearably trendy Abel and Cole deliver!

So we have to get our better quality food, and if you have the time , its great to visit a farmers market, or   a recommended small shop ( or specialist pickle supplier). But don’t overlook the big superstore, especially if it gets you eating better, now.

Getting on the zone or paleo can be difficult enough in the early stages without specialist shopping trips. When you become a fully fledged foodie, and waft around London sampling delicious stuff, it will be great, but for now  if you are in an overstressed, over taxing Job  just  fighting to find 15 minutes a day to prepare food, start with the  big shops you know.

Don’t critisize

Benjamin Franklin’s secret of success was this. “I will speak ill of no man and speak all the good I know of everybody”

In short any fool can criticise, condemn and complain -and most fools do.

So Mindwod followers, we need you to develop the self control and character  to be understanding and forgiving as “a great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men” ( Carlyle)

Commit to  understand people rather than condemning them. Figure out why they do things , Its actually far more intriguing than simply criticising, and it “breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness”

The problem with criticism is that it often pushes people into being defensive. People are not logical: they are bundles of emotions, with prejudices fuelled by pride and vanity. They often cannot see their own short comings. Dale Carnegie quotes Warden Lawes “few of the criminals in sing sing regard themselves as bad men… most attempt by a form of reasoning , fallacious or logical , to justify their anti-social acts”

The simple fact is that you will find numerous examples of the futility of criticism  throughout history. It simply does not work .

Wanting to help people change is a great aim, but, start with yourself.  As confucius said ” don’t complain abut the snow on your neighbours roof when your own doorstep is unclean”

Todays MindWOD task is to reflect on this.

Thanks to Dale Carnegie and his book “how to win friends and influence people”

Being spiritual doesn’t mean you are a push over

A few days ago, I asked you to think about the issue of not criticising others. It makes you mean, and rarely helps the receiver

As an example, Carnegie cites a letter Lincoln wrote to a general who disobeyed his orders during the Civil War. Here’s a snippet:

“I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee’s escape. He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely. If you could not safely attack Lee last Monday, how can you possibly do so South of the river, when you can take with you very few more than two thirds of the force you then had in hand? It would be unreasonable to expect, and I do not expect you can now effect much. Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasureably because of it.”

Clearly, this is  harsh, even  personal.

But the lesson we have  offer is a simple one. The lesson is that Lincoln never sent the letter. It was found among his papers after his death.

Carnegie speculated upon Lincoln’s motive for not sending the letter

“Maybe I ought not to be so hasty. It is easy enough for me to sit here in the quiet of the White House and order Meade to attack; but if I had been up at Gettysburg, and if I had seen as much blood as Meade has seen during the last week, and if my ears had been pierced with the screams and shrieks of the wounded and dying, maybe I wouldn’t be so anxious to attack either. If I had Meade’s timid temperament, perhaps I would have done just what he had done. Anyhow, it is water under the bridge now. If I send this letter, it will relieve my feelings, but it will make Meade try to justify himself. It will make him condemn me. It will arouse hard feelings, impair all his further usefulness as a commander, and perhaps force him to resign from the army.”.

Never the less, after this incident, Mead was closely supervised by Ulysses S Grant. Lincoln didn’t vent his spleen, but he also took action.

MindWod, genuine spirituality and genuine humanity does not mean taking without question whatever the people around you dish out. It means making an effort to understand and solve problems, and not  just to pander to  your knee jerk temper because  its easy.

Mindwod, after reflection,will  require you to be assertive. Sometimes being assertive means closing relations down, asking partners and friends who are bad for you to move on. Sometimes it means taking action that others don’t like.

Remember,  for all his  “coolness”  Lincoln’s  was involved in a bloody conflict.

What I would like to say is this: honour, mindfulness, humanity is your gift to yourself: if someone preaches mindfulness and positivity and immediately links it with a political movement, a business proposition or  a religious idea , maybe treat the messenger with caution.