Do You Have Grit?
Do you ever wonder how some people who have achieved success in life—inspiring artists and authors, business leaders, great inventors, big thinkers, athletes—how did they get there? Is it lofty aspirations? High IQ? Good looks? Connections? Sheer luck? Yes, maybe a little bit of each of those.
Although there has been some interesting research that steers toward another source that is in each one of us. It’s one little word that has a big impact. That word:
Grit is the passion, perseverance, and inner stamina that pushes us on when we feel like we can’t go a step further. Having grit means falling, sometimes failing, but finding the strength to dig down deep and fight on, knowing we have the inner endurance to keep going.
A research team led by Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and author, studied National Spelling Bee finalists, West Point Academy cadets, new public school teachers in challenging school environments, salespeople, and students. Duckworth’s team found a commonality throughout this diverse population. Not just talent or intelligence reaped achievement, but a combination of persistence and passion, which Duckworth calls grit. Grit helps kids win spelling bees, military cadets survive training, and salespeople score tough sales. Grit is your mindset when you fall down, and how your grit makes all the difference in your recovery to carry on—not just on aptitude or luck. It’s at the core of each one of us, we can make it grow—we just need to focus on it and channel it.
How do you tap into your grit and develop it as you would a muscle? Start by developing these habits.
1. Pursue your passion.
What drives you? What do you love to do? What makes life worth living? Your passions and pursuits are personal and are what matter to you most. They make sense to you, they get you moving each day. Your passions and pursuits give you a sense of purpose and add significant value to your life.
Ask yourself what do you value? Family, career, relationships, spirituality, business, music, knowledge, fitness, or financial security?
When you have something important and inspiring to work toward, then you are more engaged with your life pursuits and you feel good. When your goals and values are defined they give you a sense of direction and help you to live with great intention. Leading a life of purpose increases your well-being and grows your spirituality, which in turn creates and strengthens that connection to contributing to something greater than yourself.
2. Commit to the ick.
Obstacles and challenges will still come your way when you are pursuing your passions. Life is full of ups and downs and learning experiences.
Many challenges will come your way because these are things you haven’t mastered yet. But that’s a driving force of our passions—to face the challenges of the unknown which inspire and excite us, driving us to improve.
Passion helps us to persevere. Perseverance is a gritty characteristic, along with tenacity, self-motivation, discipline, and optimism. They will propel you forward when adversity threatens to steer you off course. You have the true grit to see your long-term goals through. Commit to yourself to stick out the ick to get to the great parts that are fulfilling and rewarding.
3. Deliberate practice and persistence.
Maximize your potential and master your passion through practice. From musical composers to all-star tennis players, you will find a common pattern in their quest for success: consistent practice with a purpose. It’s not just putting the time into your passion, it’s developing certain skills as well. Learn, improve, get better, refine, and revise along the way. Set a schedule, and stick to it.
There will be setbacks. I’ll guarantee there will be days that you will be frustrated and feel like quitting. When we step forward, working through the pain, self-doubt (our inner Chihuahuas) will start barking at us, or feelings of being overwhelmed will hit us. That’s when we show our true grit. It makes us stronger, bringing us self-satisfaction, and personal success.
4. Assess your progress, lean on your supporters.
On those days that you feel like your grit is slipping, reevaluate and recommit to your dream. Concentrate and take stock of your strengths, abilities, and skills—you’ll be inspired by how far you’ve really come. Tune into those who inspire you and support you when you need a pep talk or sounding board. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and challenge you to be your best.
Grit, passion, purpose—they are all inside you, and by digging deep, you will not only reach your goals but also begin to live your dreams.