In this episode Nathan explains how grit and effort matter more than talent. He discusses how his parents cultivated grit in his life, and how this enabled him to excel in the military, business, and in relationships. He also discusses how this applies to parenting and helping others in your community.
- Grit by Angela Duckworth
- Angela Duckworth Ted Talk
- Cognitive and Noncognitive Predictors of Success Study
- Sermon “A Man and His Children” – Dr. Ben Merkle (2 Peter 1:16-18)
- Heroic.us -Personal development made simple, so you can flourish in energy, work, and love. Today.
[00:00:00] Welcome back to The Life On Target podcast. Your host, Nathan Spearing here, as always. As I prepared a thorough outline for the direction that we’re gonna take Life on Target podcast in this new year. I went back chronologically in my life and tried to identify the things that I wanted to tell you about my life that I think added up to success – where I am now and the important lessons that I’ve learned in my life that I want you to be able to imply here and now to get your life on target. As always, I’ve not tried to pretend like I have it all figured out, pretend like I am the guy, but I think those of you that have been with me to date know that I’m definitely a guy that can provide some thoughtful things for you to apply. I’m demonstrating my continued [00:01:00] effort to become better, to achieve things for God’s glory through, consistency through practice, and why I am talking to you today about grit, because I think that is one of the factors that was cultivated in my life by God’s grace, by my parents, by who I hung out with in the world leading up my education all this stuff. It gave me grit and I initially kind of was going back chronologically and saying, I want to extract some lessons from the military that I learned and that I took to business. But, I was able to achieve things in the military because of what my parents did and my upbringing up to age 19 when I shipped off to basic training. So I quickly rolled the clock all the way back to the late eighties, early nineties, and had a [00:02:00] conversation with my mom about when did I start running races. My mom was a collegiate track athlete at Auburn University. Now this was, back in the late seventies, early eighties when she was doing this and college athletics was not what it, what it is now.
[00:02:19] But nonetheless, she and my aunt were collegiate athletes because my grandmother was their basketball coach. She was a guidance counselor. So, I look back generationally, I see grit in my family. My grandmother lost her husband when she was six months pregnant with her second child. Continued to have to work and support my mom and aunt and continued to get better education. She was a high school guidance counselor for the duration of her professional career. Was able to be very active in my mom and aunt’s [00:03:00] upbringing. Basketball coach, things like that, that that allowed her to be the breadwinner, because of the circumstances she had to provide for her family, as a single mom, but then also to cultivate in her two daughters grit, which then was passed on to me.
[00:03:20] And we’re gonna get into parenting a little bit later, but wanna talk, talk about individual applications. I reached out to my mom and said, “Hey, do you got some photos of when I used to run road races?” Because my mom, even though she had kids, she’s a, she has seven children, and I can remember her running because that was something that she continued to do even though she was out of college and my dad lifted weights and was in shape.
[00:03:43] So my parents had perseverance, they had grit. They continued to do it. One of the ways that manifested is, is taking dominion over their physical bodies is something we’ve talked, recently, something that I’m not done talking about. People in my circles were continuing to go hard [00:04:00] on this because it is essential aspect of cultivating grit. I was like, when did I first run a 10 k, you know, 10 K or 6.2 miles. My mom said she knows that I for sure ran one at age 10, but she started taking me to one mile fun run races at age six. And I can remember though fun runs would be out and back essentially, or out to a turnaround point and then a long loop around the field.
[00:04:27] And I can remember hurting, cause I wasn’t training at age six, it was just show. Starting gun. We’d go, all the kids would take off. I’d start running really fast in this pack and I’d start to get that pain in my legs, and sometimes I think age 6, 7, 8, I would cry out there on the track and I’d be upset. I’d, walk and then I’d get to the edge of the woodline and then I’d run the final bit. I get this motivation and then my, my mom and dad were there cheering for me and were supportive[00:05:00] that would move into me running 10 K races. And I could remember running a 5K race kind of out and back and turning around, running into a headwind and just sobbing. But the thing is with these races is I’m out kind of by myself. I’m around parents. My mom was running faster than me. She was. And I was around other people and I’d kind of be hiding my face and trying not to let them see I was crying, but then there would be supportive warmth coming from these people around me and I would push through it and I’d get to the finish line.
[00:05:34] And I never was a fast runner, but that, that transferred from that, those road races to me. Also swimming in the city league on June, July months, summer months. Competing and that started at five and six years old and we’d go to practice in the morning and I, I don’t remember going to practice as much when I was a little kid, but it gave me this, [00:06:00] this competition, this ability to kind of persevere through things.
[00:06:04] I eventually went on to swim club. My parents are like, “no, we’re not taking you to practice when you have your own driver’s license.” I bought my own car. I had work, I was paying for my gas money and I swam and I ended up paying for a decent amount. I know my parents were saying, well, you’re gonna pay for all of it at at up for front, and the bill kind of went up pretty quick. And I remember my dad saying that he was gonna pay for a good chunk, and absorbing some of that debt that, that I was supposed to pay to him. So I was gracious to him for that. But I had to pay, I had to show up, I had to take ownership of it, and I would set my alarm for four o’clock in the morning, four days a week. We were allowed to miss one morning practice. I was usually Wednesday morning for me. So Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and then a 6:00 AM practice on Saturday, and then four [00:07:00] to six, I think, or three 30 to six every single evening. So I was in the pool for four and a half hours a day in the weekdays, minus the one that I didn’t have to show up in the morning.
[00:07:14] And then a three hour practice on Saturdays. So 10 practices a week, and I remember setting the alarm, getting up, getting in my car, and,
[00:07:23] And one time my dad actually took my car away from me. I didn’t do something I was supposed to do and I asked him am I allowed to use a bike? And he let me use a bike, so I biked over a mountain to a 5:00 AM practice. I had to leave I think at three 30 because this is about seven miles bike ride. And I did that for a couple days of the. His office building was not too far away, so I could take my bike over, I could do my homeschooling at his office. I then would work software there [00:08:00] and I would be able to get some practices in swimming, even though I didn’t have a vehicle.
[00:08:07] And as I look back on that and I, I see what I had was grit and the authoritative, person on grit is Angela Duckworth. She has a book by that name. We’ll link it in the show notes. But she defines grit as passion plus perseverance, and essentially grit is an essential factor in effort.
[00:08:34] And so stay with me here. I’m gonna post this on the show notes so you guys can see these charts and kind of the math problems here cause it’s a little hard via audio.
[00:08:42] But Essentially To get to achievement, you have to put talent times effort to equal skill. And that effort equation is is very much about grit and talent. She defines as your ability to improve your skill [00:09:00] or how quickly you can improve your skill with effort.
[00:09:02] So if you put effort in, if you’re a really talented person, you can put less effort in than somebody who doesn’t have talent, but that equals. That’s only part of the, the equation of achievement. You just get skill there. You then have to take that skill and you have to apply effort to it again, to equal achievement, actualizing that skill and giving it to the world, if you will.
[00:09:25] And that’s why really, really talented people can get skill because they can apply a little bit of effort, they can get skill. Then con, continue to apply effort to that skill to get achievement is where a lot of people fall off the bandwagon. From my point of view, eventually stopped swimming.
[00:09:45] My dad sat down with me. We did some cost benefit analysis. Hey, this is the likelihood of how much money I’m gonna get from, from a university based on my current level of, of skill or my talent. I, I, I had some talent. I was applying a lot of. [00:10:00] That gave me skill. But ultimately when we shrunk things down to division one athletics and the people that are gonna pay money, I may have got some money, but cost benefit analysis that if I applied that effort to a job, it would equal more money and that I could afford college easier or better from a cost time benefit analysis there.
[00:10:24] So I gave up swimming, but what that did give me was grit. I. For years applied effort to my skill, my talent, and I had skill, and I could take that skill that I’d cultivated and I could continue to apply effort in other domains. It was transferrable. That grit worked, that perseverance, that passion could be applied in other areas, and I had to do that in the military.
[00:10:53] I had to believe. In what I was doing and go for it, and that’s [00:11:00] why I was able to make it to the top 0.03% of the military is because I had grit. I had some talent, but I just had a maximum amount of effort by comparison to the 400 plus thousand active duty service members, I. A lot of grit and I had a lot of ability to apply it.
[00:11:24] Now that, now if you extrapolate that to the whole population, maybe not significant. I do think that there are a lot of people that end up don’t, that end up not joining the military that have, you know, the ability to do grit and have talent and could possibly achieved what I did in the military. But essentially that transfers now out to business.
[00:11:41] That transfers out to being a parent that transfers out to being a friend, to being a husband. That ability to continue and to consistently apply effort. Now, I think there’s a twist to this because in entrepreneurship culture, they’re all talk about “Max work. Max work, effort, effort, [00:12:00] effort, effort. Nobody’s gonna outwork me” and Alex Hormozi talks about how that’s pretty ridiculous that you think you outwork everybody else because there’s some people that work really, really, really hard for 12 hour shift work, 15 hour shift work, two jobs, and you really think that you’re working harder than that person that’s on the factory line that’s doing that six, seven days a week. And that the reality of time that we’re confined to time and that we can only work a certain amount of hours is not necessarily mean that you, you just don’t have the ability to outwork people. You can, you can work really well, you can work work long, but doesn’t necessarily mean you’re working the hardest. But what the factor he talks about is leverage. And leverage, I think is, is a skill that you get. So you take your talent, you take this effort, you get skill.
[00:12:50] One of those skills is leverage. And that, that that leverage that you apply now effort to that leverage, you can get more achievement. [00:13:00] It’s essentially, that’s what I’m trying to do here with a Life On Target podcast. I want to give you some leverage. I want to give you a longer stick to pry on. So you take that leverage, you apply it with effort, you can maximize your. You can get way more accomplished now if you take that talent and effort and apply that skill to, to, to gain that leverage. And then you, you basically are, are, are giving yourself some cheat codes on here for a, for achievement.
[00:13:30] So all that goes into that gritty passion, that interest. This is what Angela Duckworth talks about. You have interest, practice, purpose, and hope. And interest is loving it. Practice is showing up every day. So continuing always that effort, continuing that effort, the purpose, you know, it matters and you have hope that you can get it done.
[00:13:54] And that’s why I think Christians, we should be doing a lot more. We should have a lot more achievement [00:14:00] in the world. Where we are right now. We should be accomplishing a lot because. That purpose and that hope that we have in Christ in that ultimate victory that he had on the cross over death.
[00:14:18] But also then we have to have this interest and this practice that I don’t think a lot of us are doing. We have a little bit of interest, but we’re missing that effort. We’re missing that ability to show up every. And if you don’t do that, if you don’t ha have this interest and you don’t have this continual practice out of purpose and hope that comes ultimately I think from Christ. Some of those equations are filled out for us. We got it. And I think we’re missing the effort. We’re missing the ability to do it every single day. And you need to do that. And that transfers like it transferred from my grandmother, down to my mother, [00:15:00] down to me. My dad played into that a lot.
[00:15:04] But if you look at the chart, and I’m gonna post this too, this will be a social media post and it’ll be on the, in the show notes. So you can look at this and I want you as parents to go and sit with this and think about it so that you know, where you are on the spectrum and you know where you need to get to.
[00:15:22] So there’s a, quadrant, and you have two axiis . So you have supportive and unsupportive, you know, the top being supportive, the bottom being unsupported. And I like the way that they describe it too is warmth and coldness as a parent and the other axes, the horizontal axis, you.
[00:15:41] Demanding and un demanding or high standards and low standards. The wise parent is supportive and warm and demanding slash has high standards. So you if, if you don’t have that warmth, if you don’t have that support, you’re [00:16:00] authoritarian. You have, you’re demanding, you have high standards, but you’re unsupportive and cold.
[00:16:05] And quite frankly, that’s where I am in that se. I’m in that. I struggle with warmth and supportiveness there, and I am cultivating that. We had Dr. Merkel came and spoke way back. I try to go find the Sandhills Presbyterian livestream that we have from my church where he talks about even Jesus needed to hear the father say, good job. Well. “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”
[00:16:38] Are you the guy that has high demanding standards but is not warm and supportive of your children? If not, you’re not the wise parent. You can’t be supportive. You can’t have that warmth. Now also, you can’t be the permissive parent that’s super warm and supportive, but then has low standards and is, is, is not [00:17:00] demanding of your children or neglectful, cold, unsupportive, low standards on demanding.
[00:17:07] So pull that chart up on the show notes. Look at it. Maybe talk with your wife. Where, where are we on this? How can we cultivate that high standard of living for our kids and being supportive and warmth, and essentially give them grit. Let them see us getting up, taking the talent the Lord has given us. Applying effort, getting skill, taking that skill, applying more effort and getting achievement because we have interest. We show up every day. We have purpose, we have hope. And then so they’re seeing it, they’re catching it from us, and then we’re encouraging them. We’re supportive of them to also. Achieve those high standards, we can do that.
[00:17:46] And that is going to essentially continue to compound that effort that that being applied twice in equally achievement. And then that multi-generational aspect of that, that [00:18:00] us and as Christians understand, this is not just, you know, Angela Duckworth talks about a parent, is, you know, the Latin of that is to bring forth.
[00:18:11] Is to create, you know, and so that’s what we, we do in a sense as, as biological parents, we get to do something incredibly enjoyable and beautiful that brings forth life. And then we continue the rest of the time as parents bringing forth what skill or bringing skill and achievement, bringing talent.
[00:18:35] The talent our kids have, helping them cultivate practices to to apply effort to get skill to then achieve. And we bring that forth, but you don’t have to be biologically the one that created individuals to also help others in this way. If you’re not married, how are you helping those around you cultivate these things? How are you [00:19:00] helping people get grit? How are you helping them apply that to the talent that they’ve been given and take it all the way to achievement? You don’t have to be the actual parent you can be, and this is the beauty of the church. If we are fellowshipping together, we are not surrendering to the lies that we can just go and do it all ourself. We’re submitting ourselves to the church leadership into good preaching, and then we’re fellowshipping, we’re breaking bed bread on the weekends. We’re able to encourage each other and to get these achievements and to do it from the purpose and hope that we have in Christ. Take some time. Review the parenting diagram.
[00:19:41] I’m gonna post the, the effort counting twice, equation. I’d love you just to sit with that and figure out and be honest with yourself. Are you showing up? Are you applying the effort or are you just taking that little bit of talent and because you’re [00:20:00] good at it and you’ve gotten the reps in with whatever you’re doing, given just a little bit of effort and it it equaling some, some some skill or are you coasting and kind of achieving a little bit. because you’ve gotten a little bit of skill, and now you just apply that effort to that little bit of skill that you’ve gotten over the years in, in minimal achievement. And what does that look like in the spiritual sense, the emotional sense, and then also the physical world.
[00:20:29] Your money, your relationships, the things that are, are real for you today. Your physical ability, how in shape are you? We have to apply that effort in all areas of our life. If got some value from the show if you felt like it was supportive, and enightning in any way. Share it with one friend,
[00:20:54] Rate/ review the podcast. Check out the show notes. I’m gonna put the, oh, I forgot to mention. [00:21:00] heroic.us. It’s a thing that Brian Johnson put together. This is one of the tools that I use to go through a lot of material on these things cuz as if you’re like me, you kind of go down this book train. I got a bunch of books over over my shoulder behind me and you just, how can I read all these books? How can I take it in? There’s podcasters books, there’s things, and these are things that give me leverage, that allow me to. Skill and apply effort to it and get more achievement, and how do I get it all in? And so Brian Johnson’s heroic.us and put a link in the profile. I think it’s, it’s like eight, 10 bucks a month, whatever.
[00:21:36] I don’t know. I I’ve been around it for a while, so I actually kind of got grandfathered in as he, he structured the new structure. But all these books, Angela Duck Works book Grit peak per the on performance. Born for this, all these different books you can get the meat, if you will, from the book.
[00:21:56] The one on, grit. It was I think a 16 minute video that Brian did [00:22:00] and he’s got the whiteboard up and he is showing all these equations and he is helping kind of what was the things that fed Angela Duckworth.
[00:22:05] She’s got a TED Talk. I’ll link that, the charts and things here. Hopefully you can sit and meditate on it and figure out where, you can apply more effort and get achievement for the glory of God. As always, have a good one.