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These Things Go Together: Grit, Cross-Country and Learning

My family doesn’t understand it – but in my spare time and on vacation I love reading business books; I suppose it is an odd way to unwind from… well… business.

This year over the holiday season, I read two books, the first by Chip Wilson entitled, 'Stretchy Little Black Pants'. This is a great read by the founder of Lululemon as he talks about his trials and tribulations as a Canadian entrepreneur and his lessons learned (including how careful you have to be, when talking to the media). It is also a great lesson for entrepreneurs on how you can lose control of your company. If you are looking for a quick business read, I highly recommend it.

The other book I read, was 'Grit', by Angela Duckworth. Another fabulous read with big implications both for child rearing and helping others to achieve goals (a key focus of anyone in the learning industry).

The main points I took away from the book are as follows:

  • It is not IQ that determines success later on in life, but grit and the willingness to work hard to achieve a goal.

  • Grit is ‘determination to achieve a goal’. The drive and passion come from within.

  • If you want your child to be successful later on in life, have them participate in an extra-curricular activity for more then 2 years. It is the act of following through that will help children understand determination and how hard work can contribute to a goal.

  • Having success early on in achieving a goal (e.g. doing well in a race, having a successful recital, making a team) will help to foster grit.

  • Grit can be learned!

So, what does grit have to do with corporate training, eLearning and helping adults become successful through training? Quite a lot actually…

I think about my own daughter and how she has demonstrated grittiness even at a very young age. Last year, she ran in a cross-country race for her school. Only the top 40 in each age group advanced. My daughter came 41st, only one place away from advancing. Heart-breaking. My daughter was absolutely devastated. But she was determined. Gritty I suppose.

It was then, amidst her disappointment that she decided she was absolutely going to advance to the second round of that meet the next year.

So, despite the sweltering heat, she asked me to come running with her this past August to help her with her goal. She doesn’t like to run (does anyone really?) but she was steadfast in her desire to get better. After many sweaty runs, her “grittiness” paid off. Not only did she make it to the second round of this year's meet, but she went all the way to the city finals and the championship race, far exceeding the original goal she had set!

My daughter’s success reminded me that having a goal is important. Especially in learning.

Here at Pathways Training and eLearning, we developed Canada’s first virtual reality eLearning training module, about 3 years ago. Professionals in Canadian training departments loved it, but very few seemed eager to adopt it. Instead of abandoning VR eLearning completely, here at Pathways we continued to be gritty. More and more, companies are now seeing opportunities to incorporate this technology into the ‘arsenal’ of learning options they have available for their companies to train under. We are very proud of this.

Grittiness is the desire to stay the course when you know you (your team, department or company) are headed in the right direction. Even when it’s hard.

The skills learners need today, are not the same skills that will be needed for success in the future (some recent stats indicate that 37% of the skills people use today, were learned in the last year). Helping participants become open to new and different ways to learn (especially in a rapidly changing workplace) is our jobs as educators.

Inspiring “grit” in our learners, should be a goal for any training department. Continuing to evolve eLearning technologies to support this goal, should be an objective for anyone in corporate training in 2019!

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