A few years ago, I was referred to a book entitled ‘GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance’ by Angela Duckworth. The author makes her convincing case for the role that one’s grit plays in what we are able to truly accomplish. This is clearly differentiated from ‘natural talent’ or ‘superior intellect’ in any specific area. Rather it is fueled by our sheer drive and determination to achieve whatever our passion … one that might be aided by, however is not dependent on, any obvious or natural talent.
For the past three plus years lives in general and certainly in our working world have been seriously impacted. It has created our need to adapt, juggle and learn to function in our COVID- related reality. Our challenges have been exacerbated. Thus, it seems very beneficial to consider the development of true grit and consider how this could help us thrive in today’s ‘new normal’.
There have always been some who have placed or at least seen obstacles that stand between them and what they truly desire to achieve. Perhaps we don’t believe we have the ability. Or, maybe we see a lack of ‘natural’ talent that will allow us to pursue the dream. Thus, we move onto something else. In a way, we have allowed our passion and avid interest to be hijacked by self-doubt and insecurity.
To understand how finding our ‘gritty’ self could help in today’s ‘normal’ we need to understand the personal beliefs of one having grit:
- Success is driven by effort over talent
Grit is a far more reliable predictor of success than intelligence. If you have grit, you’re brave and strong enough to do what it takes to succeed in business and life. It’s a powerful force that allows you to stand out from the crowd even though your skills may not be exceptional. Professor Duckworth finds that grit — defined as passion and perseverance for long-term goals — is an important predictor of success. In fact, grit is unrelated, or even negatively correlated, with talent.
How to make it work for you: It takes more than talent and it takes more than skill. It takes effort. Without effort, even the most skilled and talented people in the world will never accomplish anything.
- Effort must be accompanied by a true sense of purpose
How to make it work for you: Take the time to connect with your higher purpose. Purpose will require you to find value in yourself and discover how you can contribute to the well-being of others.
- Never stop in one’s drive toward continual improvement
A grit mindset never forgets that there are always opportunities to improve, no matter how good you may already be. This way of thinking gives people a leg up when confronted with an obstacle because defeat is never the default. A setback is not looked at as an opportunity to improve themselves; instead, it unfolds as their new path.
How to make it work for you: Once you’ve found a pursuit that fills you with purpose, put in the work to get better at it every day. Compete with yourself so that you’re a bit better today than yesterday.
- Learn to fail well
How to make it work for you: Look at your failure as fertile training ground for future improvement. List everything you learned from the experience. List all the insights and lessons gained as well as all that went wrong, and why. It’s only a painful memory if you don’t grow from the experience.
The past few years have clearly added challenges for anyone part of most any type of organization or business. The advantages to those who have found their ‘grit’ is that they have called forth their determination and perseverance. In no way does this mean success comes easy to them. In fact, the opposite is more likely to be true. They may face extreme challenges and hurdles while working towards their goals. But what makes them different from the non-gritty is that these challenges don’t hold them back. They display …
- MORE CONFIDENCE … IMPROVED FOCUS … LEARN FROM MISTAKES
So do you buy this? Can you see how developing more grit can help you both adapt and thrive in today’s changed environment? Then you might find these four grit related ingredients to be worthwhile additions to your diet.
- Get out of your routine
Challenge yourself. If you’re comfortable, you’re not doing enough to move forward.
- Understand the ‘why’ related to the goal you work toward
Knowing your reasons for the goal you have established will help both remain focused on it and maintain your eye on the prize.
- Check in with your feelings
Ignoring them or paying them too much attention can hold us in place. Learn how to recognize and validate and process them and respond as needed.
- Know and accept that you can’t control everything
Coinciding with my reading Duckworth’s book on Grit were stories of two individuals who defied the logic and odds in achieving their individual success and achievement. The first was Bethany Hamilton. She was an avid surfer and at the age of 13, lost her entire arm to a shark while practicing her sport. Of course … the game was over for most however not for her. With undeterred drive at the age of 26, she placed 3rd in the World Surfing Women’s Pro League competition in Fiji. And, this as an unseeded ‘walk-on’. Surfing minus one full arm and placing among the winners goes against the grain of conventional wisdom. For us maybe, however for Bethany, simply a little obstacle. Her magic ingredient? It has got to be grit to the nth degree.
The second example involves 26 year-old Nyle DiMarco. He is totally deaf and has been since birth into a family of 25 other deaf members. He had won a dance competition on the TV show … Dancing with the Stars. That’s right. He won and he doesn’t hear a solitary sound. That he actually dared to even enter is admirable and yet he went on to WIN! From what I’ve read and although total deafness is the only thing he has ever known, it hadn’t stopped him from it graduating a university or traveling the world on his own. Enter and win a dance competition … why not? Sheer grit!
Think about it. Nyle or Bethany didn’t win a dance or surfing trophy because it made any logical sense … to us. Neither of them have all of the physical attributes to obviously support their skill and drive. Yet what they did have was their daring grit that fueled their passion and propelled them forward … initially to try and ultimately to win. They simply refused to be defined by what others would see as obvious limitations.
If ever there was an appropriate time to find our inner grit, it seems so valuable a drive and skill to be activated and developed now. For most it is just a matter of mindset rather than overcoming physical limitations. Making this our personal new normal becomes our personal secret sauce for success.
P.S. Are you interested in seeing where you fit on the Grit Scale developed by Professor Duckworth? Click here: https://angeladuckworth.com/grit-scale/