In previous posts, we’ve identified several characteristics of successful people. We’ve mentioned positive attitude, showing up on time and prepared, and some skills and strategies for managing your time. These are all very important things, but they don’t mean anything if you don’t have grit.
What is grit?
Grit, according to researchers like Angela Duckworth, Ph.D., is “passion and perseverance for very long term goals.” It’s the stamina to keep working toward something for several years without giving up.
The reality is, even if you have the right attitude and all of the best time management and study techniques, if you give up in the middle of physical therapy school, you can’t be successful.
Angela Duckworth and her colleagues have looked at academic, corporate and military settings to figure out which characteristics are the most important for determining long term success. They found that it wasn’t education level, background or talent. It was grit. Those who are willing to stick it out and do whatever is necessary to achieve their goals are the ones who succeed.
Why do I need grit?
Physical therapy school is difficult. Before you even get there, you have to make it through pre-requisite courses, which can take years to complete. Actual physical therapy school is then another two or three years beyond that. That’s a multiple year commitment to a goal. Your ability to commit to that goal and persevere no matter what is more important than anything else.
How do I get grit?
One way to build grit for a goal like this is to have a passion for it. Most physical therapy students are very passionate about becoming PTs and PTAs. I have known people who are not passionate about it. More often than not, these are the people who drop out for one reason or another. Making sure you are passionate about a career in physical therapy will help you succeed in it.
If you have the passion, but still don’t feel the grit, consider how you think about your past successes and failures. Do you think that these things were within your control or outside of your control? Researchers, like Carol Dweck, Ph.D., have discovered that people who think that success and failure are out of their control are much more likely to lack grit, and fail to achieve their goals.
If you feel like success is out of your control, then your thought system tells you that no amount of perseverance will be able to get you there. It’s not up to you. But if you believe that your successes and failures are entirely up to you, then all you need is perseverance and your goals will eventually be achieved. It’s up to you to keep going and if you do, nothing can stop you. Not even failure. This is grit.
If you have grit, failure is not a permanent condition. It’s just a speed bump on the way to your goals and dreams. Develop grit and you’ll not only be successful in pursuing your physical therapy career, but in anything you decide to apply this grit to.
Want to go a little further? Check out this presentation on "Growth Mindset" by Carol Dweck.