Grit, part 3 of.....

If you have been following this page for awhile you have heard that I love to run, I love to tell stories, I love to coach, I love leisure time… On the flip-side, believe it or not, I hate to write. Why write when you can talk? This is just not a recent thing, I hated to write from my early days of elementary school. I have report cards to prove that writing was a struggle for me, my penmanship was poor (actually received “D’s” and “F’s”), and my grammar usage was just off. My ACT score in English was 17, ouch! I made it through high school by selecting classes that required little or no writing. Yet somehow I ended up being the Feature Editor for our school newspaper, how ironic. College was a lot of the same, choose courses that graded based off tests and not papers. Post-college, I landed a sales/management trainee position, whew, no writing required, just talk fast and talk confidently.

Fast forward thirty-two years….I decide to pursue a Masters Degree in Positive Coaching. To gain admittance into the program they did not require any tests, rather I had to write two papers on why I should be admitted. Rats! Somehow, I pull-off a Herculean effort and receive a letter saying “you are in”. My first class is entitled, “Positive Psychology”. Day one I receive the syllabus, much to my surprise there are no tests, instead 90% of the grade will be reflected in how well I write fifteen different papers. Not just papers, but papers written in APA format. If you are asking yourself what is APA format, join the club, I had no idea either fifteen weeks ago. Well, APA format includes a title page, author’s page, body of paper, a references page…and has to be written in 12 point Times New Roman font, single space, and use of citations. Yikes, this could get ugly quick. My mind went to the option of taking this class on a pass/fail basis, after all as my daddy told me, “C’s get degrees!”

On of the personality traits of grittiness that i knew would help me is the act of deliberate practice. I had to start to write, more often, and in various formats. Each week I had to set goals and timetables for events to happen. I knew that I had to:

1). have all my reading done by Tuesday afternoon

2). notes taken by Wednesday afternoon

3). outline of that week’s paper started by Thursday

4). rough draft done by Saturday morning

5). final paper written and submitted to my expert editor (thank you Samantha Storts) by Sunday morning

6). paper submitted by Monday night

7). Repeat step 1

Things started well with my first paper, so I believed that if I followed the process, good things would happen. Maybe it was that I had a lot of interest in the topics, maybe it was that I have gained mystical writing powers, or maybe it was that I set out a plan, followed the plan, and practiced regularly?

What I have learned…writing is still hard for me and it does not come naturally. The key to developing a gritty personality is to willingly encounter obstacles so that you can closely associate hard work with reward.

Next week I will discuss how this act of deliberate practice is re-igniting my love for running, stay tuned….