By Caroline Adams Miller – Advisory Board, Happify
On July 5th, 2015, television-watching history occurred when the United States women played against Japan in the World Cup final. The game was epic, featuring heroics from several U.S. players, most notably Carli Lloyd, who scored three goals. It was the most-watched soccer game ever in the history of the sport in the U.S., leading many young girls and boys to proclaim that they wanted to become as tough and successful as the women they’d watched battle against long odds to be crowned world champions.
Although the game immediately became sporting lore, what is less well-known are the twisting, difficult, long paths that several of the team’s stars took to even make that squad. Six of them shared the failures and embarrassments they had endured after being eliminated from youth squads and Olympic developmental programs in formative years. Lloyd, for example, remembers the sting of being cut from the U-21 national team, which was a “wake-up call” resulting in the cultivation of obsessive practice habits and mindset training that took her from good to elite.
The quality that these players embody is “grit”—which has been defined as “passion and perseverance in pursuit of long-term goals.”
Although these players all possessed high ambitions, discipline and even resilience, they all cited that their failures had been the crucial ingredient in pushing harder to develop grit, a rare but coveted quality that is unique to people who don’t just succeed in the short run—gritty people hang in there for years while trying to accomplish something that lights them up and gives them purpose.
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