Grit - the answer to success

I listened to a podcast this morning from a sports coach. The conversation was about “grit”. What they meant by this was the determination to succeed.

What was interesting was that the entire way through the podcast I kept thinking of Aran’s advice: embrace the mistakes.

Their point was that most people crave talent - they want to be the Olympic swimmer, the rugby international…the Welsh speaker. They want the end goal. What gets those people there was the acceptance of bouncing back. The NBA player who misses an unmentionable number of game winning points, but is there to play the next game.

One example they gave was a baseball player being asked “do you feel lucky to have your skill?”. He got really cross and walked the reporter down to his basement to show him a tally chart. On the chart one hash mark represented 50 practice swings. There were thousands of them. He said “that’s how lucky I feel”.

How many times have people said to you “you must have been good at languages in school”?

So what’s my point?

Well how do we, as learners, reward ourselves? Ben Bergeron (the podcast guy) said that we should reward effort not talent. This has Aran and Iestyn written all over it. The mistakes you make in conversations are evidence of the effort you’re putting in. Why? Because you’re in the conversation. You’re pushing your boundaries. You’re trying new things. That’s how you improve. That’s how you become the talented Welsh speaker.

So, if you’ve ever struggled through a lesson, ever stumbled over the pronunciation of a Welsh word, ever felt embarrassed because you said the wrong word…DA IAWN CHI!!! You have shown grit!

The podcast is called “chasing excellence” it’s episode 28 called exercising your grit muscles.

Worth a listen even if you’re not into sport.

Mwynhewch :smile:


This :point_up:
Absolutely! :ok_hand:


I’ve just finished reading “Mindset” by Carol Dweck - everything you are describing fits in with her research on fixed vs. growth mindset. I highly recommend the book. Thanks for your post - I’ll have a listen to the podcast :slight_smile:


They quote that book in the podcast too :smile:


Superb. It reminds of a quote I heard from a golfer ( usually attributed to Arnold Palmer but the jury is still out on that) after someone said one of his shots was lucky. “Funny, the more I practise, the luckier I get.”

I don’t rate talent that highly, not since a lad in school I used to beat in every race over every distance came back after a summer holiday and started beating me. It turns out that he went to an athletics club for the whole 6 weeks. I was naturally faster than him but he put the work in. No contest.


There is a downside to talent too! Consider George Best and Barry John. Boredom set in. Such a waste. It comes of having no challenge.

GREAT post. @Deborah-SSi - one for the next email, if it’s too late for this week? :slight_smile:

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Oh, and also, without grit there’d be no pearls :thinking: :grinning:


I found a link to the podcast here if anyone would like to listen to it :slight_smile:


Honestly, I wouldn’t mind some talent…just enough to make learning a little bit easier…not to avoid it, that’s not at all what I’m saying

Haha, yeah I can see where you’re coming from.

The podcast quotes: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”. Which fits with @gruntius’s story of his school running.

As you can probably tell, it’s really resonated with me. The experiences I’ve had of learning new sports, physical skills, trying to get fit etc. map so well with my experience of learning Welsh.

Currently my focus in life has shifted slightly more towards my health and fitness, for various reasons (nothing sinister). So my Welsh has been slightly neglected (mainly because this podcast series has nudge Radio Cymru in the car). So one of the things I know I want to do over the next few months is find a bit more of a balance. It also means that I know I’m going to stumble a bit more when I’m in Welsh conversations. So I know I need to find a confidence in this, somehow. Say something to myself like - “this is a warm up”, “this is a retune” and not avoid the opportunities because I know I’m going to stumble.

Going back to your comment Claudia (sorry for the tangent), you have talent because you’ve worked hard. You have a green speech bubble because you’ve worked hard. All your ground work means you are now talented. So, let’s say you decide to go and learn Icelandic. You are going to have “talent” to back up the hard work that it is going to take to speak Icelandic, because of the knots you’ve tied your tongue in to learn Welsh :slight_smile:


No matter, how much or little time you can carve out for Welsh - the most important thing is, that you practice your Welsh regularly…that you stay in the ‘Welsh zone’, even if it’s just for a minute every day. This is something I have to keep telling myself all the time.

You are so right, learning physical skills and sports is very similar to learning a new language, that’s my experience, too. I’ve always been totally passionate about the things I like and sometimes, I tend to lose my ability to see things in perspective and from a healthy distance. I so. so wanted to learn Welsh as quickly and ‘perfectly’ as possible, I put my heart and soul in it, and as a result, I started to hate my weak working memory and my slow way of learning. I took a time out to cool down…actually, I tried hard to convince myself that Welsh isn’t for me. After trying to push learning Welsh out of my life and doing other things, I went back to listening to a Challenge, just for fun, of course. And you know what happened? - I was finally able to look a learning Welsh from a distance…and I realised that I felt closer to it than I did before.

I may sound completely nuts, but now that your focus in life has slightly shifted towards something else, Welsh has become a normal…a natural part of your life. It has been added to your core, like your mother-tongue, and you don’t need to make it the main focus anymore, because it has become a part of you that cannot fade or go away anymore.

Wow, these are deep and wise words, Anthony. I’ve never thought about talent in this way. I looked at talent as something you are lucky to have been given or not. But it’s so much more positive and helpful to think of talent as the result of ground work, as a solid base to resort to and to build on! Thank you so much! :rose::sparkles::sunny:


This is a lovely way of thinking about it. I’ll hold on to that because it’s a very reassuring way of thinking about the time spent on other focuses and is a less frustrating outlook, felly diolch o gallon i ti :smile:

I’m very pleased to hear you’ve refound a focus for Welsh. Obsession is so often the first stage I hear people talk about. I have definitely been through it myself and have had many ups and downs along the Welsh path. I really believe in the power of breaks to help re-focus the brain and consolidate what you’ve achieved.


I’m so sorry that it took me so long to answer! Oh yes, I have way too many interests, too, and my focus shifts almost daily - and this can be frustrating as hell. I know a tiny little bit about many things, but don’t seem to be able to build a solid knowledge on anything. My mother always sais that every little piece of knowledge is good and important and will come in handy some day…especially the high frustration tolerance one has developed over time…:joy::innocent:

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