Angela Duckworth in her book 'Grit' defines grit as a combination of passion and perseverance.
On reading this, I initially thought passion seems like a rather strange partner in this equation. Just because you are passionate about something doesn't automatically make you 'gritty'.
But reflecting more on my own coaching experience, what I do see again and again is this: athletes with a real passion for their sport tend to invest more of themselves in their development. They might practice more on their own, they might research youtube for more information/coaching tips, they might actually watch their sport on TV (believe it or not so many young tennis players don't actually watch the sport!!), they might learn about the history of the sport, they might organise their own competitive schedules, pester for more training time, etc. etc.
In short, through this investment and 'ownership' (becoming the captains of their own ship) they are far more likely to fight for things when the going gets tough (grit) because they have built up a much greater 'cause' to fight for, and therefore their 'will' often exceeds that of their less passionate peers.
Britain's Katy Dunne shows her 'grit' on Centre Court at Wimbledon this year.
Sloane Stevens was recently quoted as saying: 'You win or you learn, but you never lose.' I like that statement and the message it conveys... but, and I know I'm just playing with words here, we do lose!
Today, Simona Halep was quoted as saying: 'If you learn from defeat, you haven't really lost.' I like that even more because it's more accurate, in that the 'if' creates a set of conditions that suggest we might not always learn from a defeat.
How do we know if we've learned from defeat? For me, the proof is in the pudding, meaning that the next time you are in the same situation (and you might have to wait a period of time for this) you do things better, or at least differently.
Learning is exhibited in the 'doing'. Too many athletes come off a defeat saying they've learned from it and then go and do exactly the same thing next time! There's a big difference between awareness of what you might have done wrong, and actually going out there and changing habits and/or developing new skills and behaviours and putting those into action in a competitive situation.
Last week, I watched a player compete and lose and our post-match discussion involved some pretty honest feedback that was tough to deliver as the coach and no doubt hard to hear as the athlete.
I watched the same player compete again today and there was no question that things were done differently which led, in this instance and in my own humble opinion, to a comprehensive victory. That is 'learning'. Well done that athlete.
Just heard this on the radio whilst eating my cornflakes:
'Never let any man or woman be the deciding factor in your creativity' - Barry White