Imagine the level of resiliency children would have if they had a strong inner core of character. They would experience less bullying, less giving up, less self-destructive behaviors. They would live lives of greater confidence, greater peace and greater purpose.
Resiliency is the focus of Educational Leadership’s September 2013 issue. Research indicates that resiliency—a positive response to failure or adversity—is a major factor in students’ academic and personal success (O’Dourgherty, Masten and Narayan in Handbook of Resilience in Children). Positive, supportive school cultures and caring, motivating teachers can help build resiliency in students, especially in children who have been exposed to higher levels of risk.
How? First, resiliency is strengthened as children learn social-emotional strategies such as identifying personal values and conflict resolution. And that is a good start. Second, it’s about strong character—the inner core of who we are. Building character in children as they acquire strategies strengthens their sense of identity, personal resolve, internal motivation and ultimately, their success. This combination develops resilience at a deep level—at the level where grit lives. Grit is the combination of perseverance and passion on the way to a goal. It’s the stick-to-it-ness needed to enjoy the sweet smell of success.
The quintessential question, “Who am I?” drives a nearly insatiable desire to build a solid core of values—principles upon which we guide our thoughts and actions. The 8 Keys of Excellence is a set of guiding principles that build a foundation of excellence—good qualities in high degree—upon which grit an take root.
INTEGRITY – Match behavior with values.
Demonstrate your positive personal values in all you do and say. Be sincere and real.
FAILURE LEADS TO SUCCESS – Learn from mistakes.
View failures as feedback that provides you with the information you need to learn, grow, and succeed.
SPEAK WITH GOOD PURPOSE – Speak honestly and kindly.
Think before you speak. Make sure your intention is positive and your words are sincere.
THIS IS IT! – Make the most of every moment.
Focus your attention on the present moment. Keep a positive attitude.
COMMITMENT – Make your dreams happen.
Take positive action. Follow your vision without wavering.
OWNERSHIP – Take responsibility for actions.
Be responsible for your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. “Own” the choices you make and the results that follow.
FLEXIBILITY – Be willing to do things differently.
Recognize what’s not working and be willing to change what you’re doing to achieve your goal.
BALANCE – Live your best life.
Be mindful of self and others while focusing on what’s meaningful and important in your life. Inner happiness and fulfillment come when your mind, body, and emotions are nurtured by the choices you make.
Build it and it will be there.
The building of character is a purposeful act, not to be left to chance. It requires the diligent and conscious attention of teachers and parents. Resiliency increases in the presence of supportive mentors who possess strong character and in an environment saturated with excellence—good qualities in high degree.
It starts from the inside out—from the core of who we are—our character. Resiliency and grit are the result of strong character purposefully developed and continually nurtured.