Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘perseverance’

This month finds many people in the U.S. watching the March Madness tournament of college basketball teams (and that includes a couple of people in my house, too).

In honor of the college basketball players who are serious students as well as successful athletes, I am sharing today a revision one of my favorite posts from a few years ago.  It is a profile of the exemplar athlete Steve Nash—a successful, astute, and articulate professional basketball player– who inspires many people, writers included.

This post ranks high in overall readership among all of my posts.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I usually don’t watch professional basketball games because while the players persevere, for the most part they show little sense of fun, and the only passion I notice is an easily aroused anger. But I will watch Steve Nash, the point guard from Canada who has played on several NBA teams and is the winner of the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award.

When Nash plays, he shows both perseverance and passion. Not only is he fun to watch, but it seems like he is having fun, too.

 

He has been on many talk shows, such as the David Letterman Show.  Nash is bright and personable, and on the Charlie Rose Show, Nash also revealed his leadership ability.

As I watched him being interviewed, I found myself wondering how does a 6’1” man, a self-described small guy, play in the midst of those very tall, competitive men with their sharp elbows and huge, muscular bodies. Regardless of how much money he earns, how does he stay committed during the training, the long season, the traveling, the pain from the inevitable injuries, and the endless tournament at the end of the season?

Nash knows what he has to do to stay committed. This is what he says:

1) Since he’s a small guy in tough territory, he is creative. He has to come up with new plays.

2)  He is mentally tough. When he’s jostled or intimidated, he remains “unflappable” because he has decided that “nothing will bother” him.

3) He has no fear. Without fear, he can charge into the midst of play.

4) He doesn’t give up because he’s committed “to stay the course.”

5) And he does it because it’s fun. He smiles when he says that, and you believe that he does have fun.

What does Steve Nash’s unflappable strategy in the face of intimidation say to you, the dissertation writer? Here is what I think is the take-away for the dissertation writer:

1) Even when you feel you’re out-manned or losing ground, dig deep to find the courage to be fearless. Decide that you will not be intimidated.

2) Like Steve Nash in basketball, you did not get to this level of writing by being a non-starter.  You were training for this long ago. You have everything you need to succeed.

3) Character matters. To be long-lasting, you work with both passion and perseverance.  Some people call this grit or stick-to-itiveness. I also call it mental toughness.

4) Keep your commitment to your team—even if it’s just a team of one.  Or add a coach to your team and have someone alongside of you who takes your commitment seriously.

5) And one more thing, Steve Nash plays hard and plays to win because the competition is fun. The fun keeps him engaged. You can make your work fun, too—writing is a challenge and challenges are exhilarating. Choose that perspective.

To stay committed for the long-term, even when the going gets tough, use your courage, grit, and mental toughness. Take risks and charge through tough places.

And then imagine how the wind feels in your hair as you run fast, dribbling the ball down the floor toward the basket.

Until next time,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach
nancy @nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com

 

Read Full Post »

You have a long-term goal—say, writing a dissertation or a book.  And the going gets tough.  This is one huge project.

It’s a long haul—it may mean months or years of coming back to that same project.

It’s been going on for quite a while.  Have you stuck with it?  Have you kept coming back to the work, day after day? 

What would you say has kept you coming back?  What do you think makes the difference in finishing or not finishing?

Intelligence?  Maybe.

Feeling engaged by your topic?  Possibly.

Sense of community or a good relationship with your advisor?  Both would be helpful.

Being motivated by someone or something or finding motivation?  Motivation is always a bonus.

How about perseverance? Yes!  Or mental toughness? Yes!  If you have perseverance or mental toughness, the odds are that you’ll meet your goal. 

To capture the crucial role that tenacity and doggedness play in your achieving a tough, very long, long-term goal, University of

Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth uses the word grit

Duckworth says that grit is related to willpower, self-control, and resilience, but it is a greater predictor of success than any of those other resources. 

To some people, the word grit sounds like being chained to a task, maybe being held hostage. But Duckworth describes it as a passion for long-term goals.  She says that grit sustains you; it’s a sustaining passion for a long time.

If you have little kids, you’ve seen grit in action—when a toddler is determined to walk or a little kid is focused on skate-boarding or roller-skating or coming in first in a contest. 

Duckworth has done research about many aspects of grit, including students who won spelling bees. 

She says that grit is not necessarily the number of hours devoted to a project. Rather, she sees it as a person identifying their weakness or what they don’t know and then concentrating on that.  She says that grit enables you to be in an uncomfortable place for some part of your day, working extremely hard, and then being able to come back the next day and do it all over again and again.   

But wait—don’t pull your hair out or start shrieking.  Think again of the child falling off of her skate board or bike or roller skates and getting up and going at it again, only to fall again. 

There’s a willingness to fail, knowing that with failure comes–yep, you got it– success.

You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Duckworth says that grit is a key and necessary ingredient for high achievement in any field. 

The word grit has an old-fashioned ring to it.  When you say the word grit, do you squint?  And maybe feel the urge to look off into the sunset?

In fact, Duckworth says that when she was studying what it was that distinguished successful people, and what it was that kept them going, beyond talent, beyond intellect, she used the word grit because of the movie True Grit, but not after the John Wayne hero. Instead, she says, the movie is really about a young Arkansas girl who pursues an impossible goal and after an impossibly long time, she eventually succeeds and reaches her goal. 

In the most recent version of the film, Hailee Steinfeld plays that girl—the girl that personifies grit for Duckworth.

 To see if you are “extremely gritty” or “not at all gritty” or somewhere in the middle, check out Duckworth’s Grit Scale.

The good news is that you can increase the amount of grit that you have.  What matters most is not your ability or intelligence. It helps to change the way you look at your work and to look most keenly at what you are bringing to the task.  Ramp up your consistency and follow through on what you say you are going to do, each day, each week. 

The more you exercise grit, the more grit you will have.

How gritty are you?  What ways have you found that help you to increase your grit or perseverance?  I’d love to hear from you.

 Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
www.smarttipsforwriters.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net
www.nancywhichard.com
nancy @ nancywhichard.com

Read Full Post »

How has your summer been so far?  Are you meeting your writing goals?  Or are you uneasy as you look at the calendar?  

Unfortunately, the best of intentions at the beginning of summer can sometimes get waylaid. 

If you have met your writing goals or if you are on track to meet them, congratulations and Big Gold Stars for you! 

 

If you have hammered out text according to plan, what helped you do what you said you were going to do?

Are you amazingly resilient? Do you have an abundance of willpower and perseverance?  Or, if perseverance is not your top strength, do you have some great strategies?

I’d love to hear from you.  What was your success strategy?

Happy writing,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
www.smarttipsforwriters.com
http://www.dissertationbootcamp.net
http://www.nancywhichard.com
nancy @ nancywhichard.com
 

Read Full Post »

Writing a dissertation is full of black holes that can swallow you up.

Boldness allows you to embrace hope and can make the impossible seem possible.

In the short story “Incoming Tide,” Pulitzer Prize winning writer Elizabeth Strout captures the essence of what might result from the interplay of boldness, hope, and perseverance.

“Incoming Tide,” from Strout’s collection entitled Olive Kitteridge, is told from the point of view of a young doctor, who has never recovered emotionally from a tragedy in his family.  He has returned to the town where he lived as a child. 

It’s clear that he plans to end his life.

But first he encounters a former teacher whose company and meandering conversation delays his plan and then at her urging, he’s called to do something bold.

The bold rescue of someone else also rescues him:  “he thought he would like the moment to be forever…Look how she wanted to live, look how she wanted to hold on.”

Consider the power of boldness.

You might need someone who believes in you and knows what you can do in order for you to do something bold.  You might have to be pushed.

You might even be avoiding doing something bold because you know that it could very likely lead to your feeling hopeful.  Once you let in some hope, then who knows what you might have to do! 

And what promises do you have that even with hope, you’ll reach your goal?

But it’s worth the gamble.  Once you have hope, perseverance becomes much easier.

Have you read “Incoming Tide”?

What have you read or what has occurred that inspires you to be bold?
I’d love to hear from you.

New Year’s Greetings,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net
www.usingyourstrengths.com

Read Full Post »

If your goal is to finish your dissertation during this new year of 2010, be bold, be optimistic, and persevere.

Positive psychologists for several years have said that the strengths most important for happiness are curiosity, optimism, gratitude, zest, and loving and being loved.

My experience as a dissertation and writing coach tells me that perseverance is a predictor of successful writing. Even if interest in a topic wanes or times get hard, perseverance, mental toughness, or grit keeps the writer writing. 

Frequently ABD’s resist a self-assessment that suggests they have perseverance as a strength.  But there are ways to build perseverance.

Leveraging the strengths of boldness and optimism can help ABD’s acknowledge or access their strength of perseverance.

If ABD’s or other writers recognize situations where they have been bold in the past and identify current opportunities for boldness, they can also generate optimism.  With boldness and optimism, ABD’s can refute the self-sabotaging belief that they lack the necessary perseverance to finish the dissertation process.  

Adding boldness and optimism to perseverance is a wining combination.  These strengths hold the answer to the question: What do I need in order to be a successful writer?

Where can you be audacious and bold? 

• Start with your writing goals – both long-term for 2010 and short-term for this week and this month.  Commit to a reasonable goal for the next two weeks.
• Draw boundaries to protect your writing time.
• Revitalize your relationship with your advisor.
• Invest in a dissertation coach.

Where will you move out of your comfort zone for the sake of your writing?

All good wishes for a very productive and happy 2010,

Nancy

Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net
www.usingyourstrengths.com

Read Full Post »

You’ve been working hard on your dissertation this summer, honing your process, becoming surer of your argument, and thinking about the end. And the end is definitely in sight.  Yay!!

A couple of clients who have just gone through an unexpectedly bumpy patch right toward the end of their work made a suggestion to pass on.  They said, “Keep your eye out for complacency!”

When your work seems to be coming together, complacency can creep in, sabotaging your momentum. 

The complacency gremlin will encourage you to take a couple of mornings off or to start later than usual.  It will egg you on, pushing you to open a couple of emails and then a couple more. 

You’ve worked hard to put structures in place to support you.  Don’t let them slip and slide and let you down.

3 Strategies to Block Complacency:

1.  Most writers eventually come around to thinking that mornings are when they do their best writing.  If you have found success during the morning hours, be absolutely faithful to your morning routine now.  No excuses.

2.  Do not open your email before you begin to work—go to your document, open it, and jump in.  Don’t read even one email before you’ve put in your time writing.

3.  Watch for the urge to take a break when the writing is going well.  When you’re feeling in flow or starting to feel productive, don’t take a break.  See complacency for what it is—self-sabotage.  And dissertation sabotage can happen at any time.
 
One client says that when she starts to feel complacency creeping in, she tells herself, “Don’t even think about breaking.  Work for an hour, and then we’ll talk about it.”

Sounds like that might work! Be vigilant; be tough.

Have you felt complacency sneaking up on you?  I’d love to hear how you’ve handled it.

I also hope you’ve subscribed to my newsletter.  If you haven’t already done so, sign up for Smart Tips at www.nancywhichard.com.

Until next time,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach
www.nancywhichard.com
nancy@nancywhichard.com

Read Full Post »

Do you work late into the night, trying to analyze a computer screen filled with numbers?   What do you do when your eyes and mind start to shut down?

A client, who is very near to finishing her dissertation at a competitive university, gave me something to pass along to you.  The other day, she said, “Here’s something your other clients might enjoy.”

First, though, let me tell you a couple of things about her.  She is in the last big push toward her defense, but she has had to climb mountains to get here. She has persevered in spite of incredible obstacles.  Now she is demanding a great deal of herself by working until far in the night.  As a scientist, she often is trying to make sense of numbers on a page or screen. When the numbers start to blur for her, she looks for a moment of fun, a change. 

Here is what she passes along to you:  For a 30-minute break where she can switch brain cells from considering numbers to something more visual, she has found a daily jigsaw challenge on the Houston Chronicle both relaxing and energizing.

She says this 30-minute break has a beginning and a definite end.  You can’t get sucked into staying at the game ad infinitum.

Interested?

Go to the on-line Houston (TX) Chronicle: www.chron.com.

Click on “Entertainment’ and then at the next screen choose “games.”

There among other choices, you’ll see “Jigsaw puzzle.”  You’re asked if you “have what it takes to solve [their] latest game.”

I’ll further challenge you not just to play the game, but more importantly to be inspired by my client to persevere.

This incredible woman is 60+ in age and is giving it her all to finish her dissertation over the next few days.  

I’d love to hear from you.  Let me know if you found the jigsaw game to be the right relief for a short break.  Also, let me know if you’d like to send a cheer of encouragement out to my client, whom I feel grateful to know and who continues to amaze me.

I’d also love to send you my newsletter.  Go to my website at www.nancywhichard.com, and underneath my picture on the home page, sign up for Smart Tips.

Gratefully yours,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach
www.nancywhichard.com
nancy@nancywhichard.com

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »