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Mother Africa: A show to teach kids (and adults) about perseverance

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Back in 2009, the NY Gifted Education Examiner reported on a study indicating that, when it comes to lifelong success, the single quality that matters more than intelligence is, in fact, grit, writing:

While researchers have long focused on measurements of intelligence, such as the IQ test, as the crucial marker of future success, these scientists point out that most of the variation in individual achievement - what makes one person successful, while another might struggle - has nothing to do with being smart. Instead, it largely depends on personality traits such as grit and conscientiousness.... Researchers are quick to point out that grit isn't simply about the willingness to work hard. Instead, it’s about setting a specific long-term goal and doing whatever it takes until the goal has been reached.

It’s always much easier to give up, but people with grit can keep going. More recently, we highlighted the work of Dr. Carol Dweck, who told an audience of parents at the NYC Gifted Symposium:

A high IQ is meaningless when it comes to achievement. In fact, it might even hinder it. Bright children who are told they're bright have a tendency to decide that being smart means never putting in any effort. So when they encounter something truly challenging, they shirk away from attempting it, for fear of appearing less smart than everyone believes them to be (not to mention as smart as they believe themselves to be).

But, no matter how smart a child is, the concept of grit is a rather abstract one. Plus, sticking to it is hard. And no one likes doing hard things.

Earlier this week, the NY Frugal Family Examiner wrote about Mother Africa: Circus Der Sinne (Circus of the Senses):

This troupe of African performers from Ethiopia, Benin, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa offers the jaw-dropping acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil (Premium Tickets: $495), the wondrous precision of The Rockettes (Tickets: $46-$145), the sweeping pageantry of The Lion King (Tickets: $99-$165), the toe-tapping percussion of STOMP (Tickets: $56.95-$86.95), the exuberant dancing of Newsies (Tickets: $67-$189) and the free-wheeling showmanship of The Blue Man Group (Tickets: $82.30-$106.30). All for only $36, $22, $14 or $11 a ticket.

But Mother Africa is more than just the frugal family holiday deal of the season. It is also an amazing, tangible demonstration of grit and perseverance (set to funky music and dressed in colorful costumes).

Because all of the performers up on stage at the New Victory Theatre until January 5, 2014 are unquestionably talented, obviously hard-working... and yet they still make mistakes once in a while.

Yes, right on stage. With hundreds of people watching. After thousands of hours of practice, they still don't get everything right all of the time.

But yet they keep going.

Hubert Schober, the show's co-producer offers a lesson for everyone when he praises, "It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to do what these performers do. While they have natural talent, they are constantly rehearsing, practicing and perfecting their acts, many times in less than accommodating circumstances. They may not get it right every time, but they never give up and are constantly pushing themselves to learn and perform more difficult tricks."

That's grit at it's most basic and fundamental level. Something that any child can understand and draw inspiration from. Talent will only get you so far. Effort will only get you so far. It's all about perseverance.

Plus, the entire show is a lot of fun, too.

For more information on Mother Africa, click here.

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