EP. 15: ON THE IMPORTANCE OF HARD THINGS: CAROLINE MILLER

Optimism and future mindedness is the ability to believe. And it’s kind of baked into self-efficacy which is the belief you can do the things that are in front of you, I can go out and figure out how to do this. I will find somebody I will persist even if it isn’t easy to get where I need to go – Caroline Miller
When I think of grit my immediate mental picture is John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn in the movie. Tough as nails, dogged determination.  Tough is certainly part of grit but according to Caroline Miller, there is so much more that makes up what she calls “baking the grit cake” Caroline is the author of the best selling book Getting Grit (2017) For almost three decades has been a pioneer with her ground-breaking work in the areas of goal setting, accomplishment, grit, happiness and success. She is recognized as one of the world’s leading positive psychology experts on this research and how it can be applied to one’s life for maximum transformation and growth. In 2015 she was named “one of the ten positive psychology coaches to follow. Caroline thinks we need a grit revolution. A change in our recognition and cultural reward system where effort is venerated over talent and people do their best every day regardless of how hard it is and we are all part of other people also being their best.  Talent with no effort is just wasted potential.  Sign me up. How important is grit? Caroline has written on the use of the twelve-item Grit Scale and found it to be the leading predictor of who drops out at West Point during the first summer, known as “Beast Barracks.” It had also worked with preteens, determining who would be in the finals of the National Spelling Bee. Grit is considered a key ingredients of high achievement. We live in an exciting but challenging times. Disruptive economic conditions, geopolitical strife and now every negative event around the globe is piped into our homes via television and the internet. Add to this the natural vicissitudes of life itself. As I’m writing this we are still cleaning up after a direct hit by hurricane Irma and Houston just went through much worse with Harvey.  Without grit, we can be handicapped by discouragement, fear, inertia and habituated comfort.
At various points, big and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails – Angela Duckworth, Grit
If you’ve been knocked down … you’ll need some grit to get up and try again. The value of hard things  Caroline has done a great deal of research on what really makes people happy. A lot of that data points toward the imperative of doing difficult things in order to live a satisfying, high-quality life filled with achievement.
If you do nothing hard at the end of the day the research shows, you feel mediocre about yourself because you know you went for a low hanging fruit. Caroline Miller
Research she has done in Goal Setting Theory, holds that “challenging and specific” goals are required if someone wants to attain the highest levels of performance. Easy goals, don’t just result in mediocrity, she says, but also leave people feeling mediocre. You aren’t happy doing nothing. You are driven to master environments in order to feel related, autonomous and competent.
Pleasure is evanescent, the self does not grow as a consequence of pleasurable experience, complexity requires investing psychic energy in goals that are new, that are relatively challenging – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow
Self efficacy theory is the belief you can do hard things and she says there ways to build that belief. One is just by having small mastery experiences, challenge yourself by doing successively hard things; like parking farther away from the store, taking a cold shower or getting up earlier, mowing your own lawn. Another simple way to find challenges is to enter a competition. No wonder Caroline is a top-ranked Masters Swimmer and has a black belt in Hapkido.  Exercise your grit muscle.
Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life –  Jerzy Gregorik, Olympic weightlifter
Caroline is like a cross between Tony Robbins and Sheryl Sandberg. She’s motivational, incredibly articulate and footnotes her sentences with research and scientific articles incredibly articulate. Her passion for the topic and her zest is contagious. Listen and you’ll see what I mean.  In this interview, we cover all of this and more …
  • Defining grit, the various types and how they differ
  • The research on purpose and goal setting
  • How to develop grit and the science behind it
  • Her story and how she overcame an eating disorder
  • The importance of hope – what it really is
  • How the culture is promoting mediocrity in many arenas
  • How to cultivate grit in ourselves and our children  
  • The evidence based value of mantras and mottos 
Listen up, take notes. If you don’t already follow Caroline, I think you’ll be a fan. Show Notes / Resource Links (below) [00:04:03] Defining grit [00:08:37] The macro attribute for being gritty [00:09:03] Hope vs expectation [00:11:47] Carlone shares her story of battling with an eating disorder [00:13:04] How one person’s vulnerability changed her life [00:15:54] On the importance of failure as a precondition for grit [00:16:03] On the self esteem parenting movement [00:43:56] On the importance of doing hard things [00:45:38] On self efficacy theory [00:47:19] On how mantras can change your life [00:51:45] Her answer to the time travel call question.
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