The word ‘GRIT’ or ‘GRITS’ has been around for many years. Perhaps I first heard of it as a food of Native American origin, most commonly served in the Southern United States. Then ‘grit’ went Hollywood when in 1968 the book True Grit was made into an academy award winning movie starring John Wayne … a film that was re-made recently in 2010. So we know that ‘grit’ is something we can eat and watch. Yet is there more? Evidently so because now GRIT is being researched, studied and acknowledged as a very meaningful personality trait that can really make a defining difference in business, differentiating the successful and achievers from those who are less so. Actually it’s exciting. Whereas IQ has often been considered a good measurement for how well one might do in a given field … or in life, GRIT seems to be giving that concept a run for its money.
I just viewed a TED video made by Angela Lee Duckworth, a researcher, psychologist and educator. Ms. Duckworth has identified six characteristics of GRIT.
- having true passion and perseverance to drive to the long term goal
- having the stamina to stay the course
- sticking with your future, not for the day, week or month. Rather for a very long time
- working very hard to make the future happen
- viewing life … not as a sprint … rather a marathon
- is not IQ. In fact it is seen as being inversely related to talent or capabilities.
I was fascinated because as businesses have struggled for the recent 3-4 years in attempts to survive a challenging economy, it is possible that the individuals who have been most responsible for that survival of the organization seem to posses the characteristics attributed to one having GRIT! I can assure you it has nothing to do with eating.
Working with many, varied businesses in the capacity of ‘coach’ we have had the opportunity to witness leaders and employees as they navigate the rough waters of recent times. And you know what? The ones who have made the greatest contribution to survival are those who would be labeled as possessing the GRIT gene, a gene that is available to leader and employee alike. In most every case each person possessed each of the six personality components above. Whereas those considered the brightest in terms of IQ offer a clear value to an organization, when push comes to shove it’s not the IQ about the industry or the product that saved the day. It’s about the survival of the ‘grittiest’.
If you’re curious to measure your own degree of GRIT, that of your company or your leadership team take a short quiz here. To what extent do you have it and is it evident in your organization? Are you using it to your advantage and that of your company? Can you see ways to up your ‘gritty-ness’? Seems like a good topic to think about … while eating them of course.