Developing career resilience
Developing career resilience

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Developing career resilience

2 Achieving goals, setbacks and persistence

One textbook definition of motivation comes from Laurie Mullins, an academic and former Territorial Army instructor. He describes motivation as a ‘driving force’ (Mullins, 2002). This suggests a lot of energy being created within us to move us into action. You have probably experienced this whenever there has been something you really wanted, such as winning a race or passing an exam.

Whatever our goals and motivations, there are times when difficulties arise and progress is slow. It is at these times that people with high self-efficacy persist in taking actions, while others give up.

Activity 2 Grit and persistence

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

In the video ‘Personal best: persistence’, OU sports academic Jessica Pinchbeck talks with athletes about developing ‘grit’ to overcome adversity and make progress towards their goals. Watch the video and note down what the athletes describe as helpful in keeping them moving towards their goals.

Download this video clip.Video player: Personal best: persistence
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Transcript: Personal best: persistence

Persistence is a personality characteristic that’s been shown to be highly important in those people who are successful. An American professor, Angela Duckworth, has coined the term ‘grit’ to explain this persistence. And she defines grit as the effort and interest over a period of years overcoming setbacks, adversity, or plateaus in progress towards a goal.
I can’t truthfully say that every single training session is a bundle of laughs, because it is hard. And that’s what training is about. It’s an element of discipline as well as enjoying it. But most of the time, if I’m not feeling totally up for a training session, by the end of it I’ll be glad that I did it. And during the training session as well, I’ll be glad that I’m doing it.
Well, on the pitch, you know, I always have a continual optimism that I can be better. And so, you know, today it’s going to be a tough game. Last week we had a tough match, and we were 4-2 down on point. I had belief that we could go back.
We did bring it back to four. And I always have a deal of optimism that we can do that. But it’s tough.
And actually it’s looking at the facts and seeing that it’s not working. And the great thing is, sport’s not maths. It’s not a set result. And if you have the heart and you have the belief and you can fight for it, you can actually turn around tough results.
In order to develop this grit, Duckworth has linked it to the growth mindset. So thinking that things aren’t fixed, so intelligence is very malleable, and here what we do is we look at setbacks as something that we can learn from and grow from, rather than seeing them as a failure or a reflection of our ability. So, having that growth mindset and being able to build upon that and being able to look at setbacks and problems that we encounter and turn them into a positive to help us focus and stay motivated towards our goal is really key.
When it gets tough, I find it easier to keep going if I remember what my goals are so that I want to make GB team again, or remembering what I’ve done in the past and how good that was and, yeah, trying to do that again. Or if I want something more than I’ve ever done before, just remembering what those goals are.
End transcript: Personal best: persistence
Personal best: persistence
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Jessica Pinchbeck talks about persistence and having a ‘growth’ mindset. These athletes do not think that their current performance is fixed; instead, things can change as they learn from setbacks. The athletes describe times when they turned situations round, keeping positive, keeping a focus on goals, remembering the good feelings that they had at times of previous success and asking themselves ‘How can I grow from this setback?’

Keeping motivated towards goals can be difficult and require persistence. As for the athletes in the video, bigger goals can take years to achieve.

The athletes describe gaining persistence from clear goals, positive feelings of success and believing that they can turn setbacks around. The nurses in Activity 6 of Week 5 described the factors that motivate them at work, and you looked there at some of the factors that motivate you. How far might any of the tactics from the video support you? Which?

If the goal feels a long way off, noting down even small steps towards it can make a difference, in the same way that athletes note tiny fractional improvements on their personal best. Note down your thoughts.

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