The culture of the Carlquists is grit.
Carl Arvid Carlquist was born in Sweden in 1857. He moved to Utah, raised his family here, had a son, Carl, who had a daughter, Edith, and she is my Grandma DeeDee.
I am a Carlquist.
From Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, she says the following. “If you want to be grittier, find a gritty culture and join it.”
Or be born into it. I was born into the gritty, Carlquist culture.
It’s about the team you are on. Duckworth explained further in her book that excelling athletes need talent, hours, and correct practicing to become the best. But they also needed one more thing: they needed to be on a great team.
I tried out for my first competition soccer team when I was in elementary school. I think most of the girls there made the team. It wasn’t very hard to be a girl playing soccer in the late ’80s. I remember my freshman basketball tryouts and how we were running drills and it was packed, getting all of those girls, hoping for maybe 20 spots on the team, to line up together and start sprinting up and down the court. The coach had a lot of people to cut.
Great teams have tryouts. They cut people that won’t excel in their culture.
And the great players that make it, are what make the team great.
The sociologist, Dan Chambliss said it this way: “There’s a hard way to get grit and an easy way. The hard way is to do it by yourself. The easy way is to use conformity–the basic human drive to fit in–because if you’re around a lot of people who are gritty, you’re going to act grittier.”
Now, let me bring this back around to the Carlquists. As I said, Grandma DeeDee is a Carlquist. A few weeks ago, after finishing up a piano lesson with Dom, she started telling me about the recent projects she had finished in her garden and what was next on her list. Then she told me that she has a very specific goal lately: “to have more grit.”
She’s 99. She has about 20 piano students each week. She puts in hour after hour of hard work in her garden each week. She plays the piano for the children in church. She does the crossword. She hosted a dinner with friends at her home recently and made several wreaths and decorations from flowers she’d picked from her garden and carefully dried. She’s doing all this while she’s going blind and has lost much of her hearing. And she feels crippled by arthritis.
She wants to have more grit.
She exudes grit. I have grown up around her and the Carlquist culture. It’s the grittiest. I have heard family stories of grit and witnessed it myself.
With that said, and with that history of a PART of my family history that is gritty (I have so many examples), here are three ways that I could work to be more gritty, myself:
- Have a growth mindset. This one is included in Duckworth’s TED talk and it “is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed… can change with your effort.” Failure doesn’t stop you. Grandma DeeDee calls her backyard the garden of her mistakes. I told her, once, that I’ve had a lot of failures figuring out how to garden. She laughed. She has failures every year. “That plant just doesn’t like that spot,” she said. “So you move it or you pull it out and throw the dead thing away.” You do something different next time.
- Pursue your passion. Lots of things I’ve read online have impressed on me that having grit doesn’t just mean that you’re tough. It means that you push through and hold true to your end goal. So you have to have an end goal to begin with. And then, you need to have the passion to get there if you’re going to overcome the potholes on the way. Grandma didn’t marry young. She finished her degree at the University of Utah and went on to Columbia Teacher’s College for her master’s. She lived in New York then went to San Francisco to serve an LDS mission. When she did marry, she was passionate about raising a family, fighting through eight pregnancies where she was sick the entire time. I have had two pregnancies, sick the entire time through both, and it felt eternal to me. With both pregnancies, I reached a point where I hit a wall of depression and unfounded realization that I would feel like this for the rest of my life. I couldn’t convince myself that it was temporary even though I knew it would be gone once the baby was born. I could never imagine doing that eight times. Grandma was passionate about having children. She pursued it and raised bright, talented, loving, and gritty kids.
- Authenticity matters. This is the part that brings me to my #yearofbeautiful initiative. How can I live more authentically? How does this tie to grit? Well, let’s imagine that you’re pursuing a goal and you’re determined to stick with it, no matter what. Because grit. But, as you get further along, you realize that your goal does not align with your inner values. Do you then keep your rigid determination to follow through? Do you ignore at what cost you must do that? That doesn’t sound fulfilling for me and I’ve found an article that lists many studies that found that it matters MORE if you can be both persistent, and authentic when creating your goals. From that article, they defined a three-part measure for authenticity: living in accordance with your values and beliefs; staying in touch with the ‘real you’; and not feeling the need to always do what others expect of you. My Grandaddy was in a hospital when my Grandma was younger and taking care of her little kids. He was in a hospital for mental instabilities. And he wasn’t getting out. So Grandma went down there and brought him home, determined to help him and take care of him, in addition to caring for her own small kids and her two step kids. She didn’t care what others thought about her going and doing this. She wanted her husband around. And she believed that she could help and take care of him. And she did. He got better. They worked hard. They raised their family. This story is authentic.
Understanding both grit and authenticity feels like understanding the entirety of an iceberg to me. I have a glimpse of the surface. I haven’t even walked on it yet, let alone, been beneath the icy waters to see the full size of it.
Tell me, please: have you found podcasts, blogs, books, or TED talks that have given you more insight into both grit and authenticity? What are they?