Get Grit, Part 4

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Do You Have Grit? Answer These Questions and Find Out

By Laura Schonberg


It takes time and patience for a young horse to learn how to position his body and not push on his handler. Photo credit Laura Schonberg

The gritty mindset combines the power of passion with perseverance. We know we can be distracted by talent, but if we remember that our effort counts twice, we (and our horses) can accomplish great things.

I’ve created a list of questions based on Dr. Angela Duckworth’s checklist of a gritty mindset. How do you rate?

Do new ideas/projects distract you from previous ones?

Does a new horse or a new event draw you away from your goals or focus with your horse? Do other people’s beliefs about what you can or can’t do derail you from your vision? Are you able to stay steady on the course that you set for yourself?

Do setbacks discourage you?

When you “fail” do you dust off your boots and spend some time thinking differently about what you want? Do you ask for help when you need it? Are struggles seen as opportunities as compared to failures?

Do you set a goal but later choose to pursue a different one?

When the going gets tough do you switch tracks or stay the course? Do you set goals that are too hard based on what you see in others? Are your goals attainable and specific? Do you break your goals down into reasonable pieces?

Do you work hard?

Are you willing to put in the time it takes to grow in your horsemanship? Do you follow through? Does your horse trust you to help him? Do you dig deep even when hungry, hot, cold, thirsty, tired, dirty, or frustrated?

Hard work involves giving something of ourselves, even if we don’t feel like it. Our horses need our absolute best every moment we are with them if we expect them to give us theirs.

Do you have difficulty maintaining focus on projects that take more than a few months to complete?

Is your focus on making short-term gains or on long-term impact with your horse and riding? Do you get frustrated when your horse doesn’t get what you’re trying to teach him right away, or do you adjust what you’re doing to ensure he trusts you in the long run? Are your goals abandoned if progress isn’t made as quickly as you’d like, or do you adjust your time-frame and focus on what you want to accomplish?

Do you finish what you begin?

Is your tack room or home office cluttered with starts of projects or do you focus on one thing at a time? If something gets difficult, do you abandon it or do you stick with it even when it’s hard? Is the property littered with half-done tasks or are things tackled in order? When you get frustrated, do you throw up your hands in despair and stomp away? Or do you take time to reflect and adjust your thinking and emotions?

Do your interests change from year to year?

There are so many different venues, competitions, and opportunities in the Pacific Northwest… does your time and attention flit from event to event so your efforts wear thin? Do you try appetizers in different groups or clubs that take you in too many directions, or do you seek a deeper commitment for a main course with some substance? Are your goals and outcomes important enough to you that you spend more than a year working on them?

Are you diligent?

Diligence is defined as having or showing care and conscientiousness in one’s work or duties. Are your daily chores done with care out of respect for your horse? Do you think and plan ahead for your riding sessions or lessons? Is there resentment about setbacks or are you open to growth opportunities?

Are you obsessed with a certain idea or project for a short time but later lose interest?

It’s easy to be excited about new things. Our brains crave novelty and it’s sometimes easier to initiate something different or unfamiliar instead of working through our habits or mistakes. Do you start a new skill with relish but when that doesn’t feel exciting any more, jump to something else? If your growth plateaus do you abandon the vision for something else?

Do you overcome setbacks to conquer a challenge?

Hard things happen in life and there’s no exception in horsing. It can be a catastrophic injury or having to change barns. It can be a series of lessons that are so frustrating that you never want to go back, or a weekend of showing that leaves you in last place. It can be a change in your domestic status at home or an illness that costs time and money.

Setbacks are inevitable for all of us, but we can foster a mindset that recognizes our desire to improve and overcome. This mindset is grit and will create a positive opportunity for growth and learning.


Published August 2018 Issue

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