Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Caught up in the Moment 
or Grit Happens

by Jim O'Kelley, Director
Elks National Foundation

That moment when you realize that thing you've been doing is actually a thing.

A couple of weeks ago, I was telling Meghan about our latest Hoop Shoot video (watch for it on September 29 as the first installment in our #TrueGritTuesdays series!)--which features two sisters from Missouri and their parents and is about setting goals and working hard to achieve them--and she said:

"You guys ought to talk more about grit. It's a hot topic right now. Everyone wants to fund programs that help kids develop grit."

One of the things I've learned in four years of marriage is that Meghan has an uncanny knack for being right. Turns out while we were immersed in running the Hoop Shoot, its outcomes had become the Holy Grail of youth programming.

The grit movement in education started a few years ago when psychologist Angela Duckworth studied people in various challenging situations, including National Spelling Bee participants, rookie teachers in tough neighborhoods, and West Point cadets. Her research suggested that grit was a more accurate predictor of success than social intelligence, good looks, physical health, or IQ. Duckworth explains the premise in this short Ted Talk.

Grit is one of those words that sort of means what it means. It's the will to persevere in the face of long odds. Educators have turned it into an acronym: G for guts or growth, R for resilience, I for integrity, and T for tenacity. But to folks like you and me, GRIT is just grit.

The important thing is that this characteristic that researchers and experts have concluded is so important for our children, this buzzword that everyone is talking about, this grit--our Hoop Shoot program develops it and reinforces it.

Don't just take my word for it. Listen to the parents and contestants in this video.

They're talking about grit.

Remember the story from a couple of years ago about the boy with one arm who made it to the regional finals? Or the girl with leukemia who made it to state? They had grit.

Every year, participants in our program develop grit by setting goals, working hard to achieve them, failing and bouncing back to try again and work even harder the next year.

October is ENF Month, and this year, we'll be celebrating grit through our #TrueGritTuesdays series. Once per week for six straight weeks, we'll air a short new interview with a Hoop Shoot family that speaks to or around this concept of grit. The first is called Ice Cream and the Rocky Road Back. It will air on Facebook and our YouTube channel on September 29.

… Okay. September isn't October. When you have six films, a clever name, and only four Tuesdays, you have to improvise.

And improvising takes grit.

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