I’m currently reading “How to raise successful people” by Ester Wojciciki. I don’t even have small humans to raise but I thought it couldn’t hurt to be prepared if I ever decide it is a good idea. The book is teaching me a huge amount about management of people and one of the sections which piqued my interest this morning is around grit. We know that grit is the cornerstone of successful people, organisations and society. It is a combination of both passion and perseverance. It will come as no surprise that large swathes of today’s children are not being raised to possess grit because things are done for them and/or their coddled too much.
The antithesis to this are children/people who have too much resilience (I won’t say grit because often they’re lacking in passion aspect required for the true definition of grit). Their perseverance is born through fear.
Fear is a very effective tool. It’s widely used in election campaigns to create dissent, wars have been fought with it, organisations are built on it. A cycle of fear creates an army of resilient soldiers who can withstand all manner of things but is that really living?
Resilience is an incredibly important skill but resilience for resilience sake is meaningless. One day that person will wake up and wonder what the hell they’re doing and/or the dissent and unhappiness will leak because they feel a lack of meaning.
We see this all the time in professional environments. Fear is instilled at an early phase packaged up as teaching youngsters “grit” and “learning the ropes”. The fear of missing out, fear of disappointing becomes sharper and more prevalent in people’s lives.
I think historically women have been faster to pull away from fearful environments because they find meaning in motherhood and that passion is ignited. They have to demonstrate perseverance to be successful parents but there is passion too. A job where resilience is required but there is no impact or passion? That’s obviously going to play second fiddle. As men increasingly play active roles in their children’s lives, I suspect we’ll see the same, unless this cycle of fear in organisation is broken.
We know that people are more impactful in organisations when they find meaning. It isn’t a company’s responsibility to make someone find meaning in their life, you’re not a guru and nor should you strive to be that for your employees. Giving employees space to figure themselves out; giving them the opportunity to see the company’s mission being put into practise and goals being achieved; Showing them that your personal and business philosophy are actionable rather than promotional; This will allow you to attract and retain a workforce that believes in not only themselves, but in you.