The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

RLF Reflection: Grit

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On February 4, Oumy Kane gave a presentation on grit. According to Oumy, ‘grit’ is the key to being a great leader. According to Oumy, grit is defined as sustained perseverance and passion for long-term goals despite setbacks, obstacles and challenges. She discussed her personal experiences in which she encountered the need for grit. Oumy mentioned her high school experiences with sports and how grit was essential to facilitating team culture. She highlighted five characteristics of grit which included courage, conscientiousness, long-term vision and endurance, resilience, and excellence. Someone who has grit is meticulous, dependable, achievement-oriented, and one who is persistent in overcoming any obstacles that they encounter.

Grit is an important quality to embody in both academic and workplace settings. Students and professionals who have grit exemplify a quality that drives them towards achievement and success. All of the qualities of grit are interconnected with each other such that multiple characteristics are related to and work together. For example, possessing resilience will give a person the strength needed to brush themselves off, after a setback, and continue to realize their goals. Resilience also requires the endurance to follow through with one’s goals in order to ensure success. Oumy identified professional interview settings as contexts in which grit can be most useful. Specifically, pertaining to questions such as, ‘How have you dealt with failure in the past and how did you bounce back?’

As leaders, grit is essential in order to foster a productive and successful team dynamic. Grit helps a team move toward a central vision. Having the ability to identify individuals with grit will also increase the possibility of one’s team to adopting an atmosphere of optimism, confidence, and creativity. In relation to the pandemic, grit is essential in focusing on the tasks of our daily lives, that are directly within our control, as well as in being optimistic and working on self-development to become the best leaders possible. In the short term, there are many small but meaningful things we can do to become grittier, such as set up and follow a routine, continue exploring interests and hobbies, and cultivate a sense of gratitude.

-Written by Jourdin Thomas, Class of 2021 Rockefeller Leadership Fellow 

As Rockefeller Leadership Fellows, seniors gain a better understanding of the qualities and responsibilities expected of leaders. As Fellows take part in the workshops, discussions, and team-building exercises, they examine their skills, qualities, and attributes as leaders and analyze how these influence teamwork and achieving goals. 

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