Is Grit the Key to Success?

July 9, 2014

Is Grit the Key to Success?

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”  – Calvin Coolidge

The study of success has always been fascinating to me. If we each possess the ability to accomplish greatness what causes some people to live a life of mediocrity while others surpass limits against all odds?  Throughout my study of success strategies I have found a plethora of common characteristics among high achievers such as curiosity, love of learning, desire and passion, but there is one that stands out to me in almost every story…. GRIT.

The definition of grit-  firmness of character; mental toughness and courage; indomitable spirit;

In other terms, grit is the quality that gives us “pushthroughitness”. The perseverance to keep striving to reach our goals no matter what obstacles are placed in our path. In the end, grit is a key determining factor in whether or not we achieve our version of success.

For the last 11 years, Angela Lee Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania has been conducting groundbreaking studies on grit. Her research has validated that intelligence is a very small part of the story when it comes to predicting success.

“One characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. And it wasn’t social intelligence. It wasn’t good looks, physical health, and it wasn’t IQ. It was grit.  Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Duckworth explains in a recent TED Talk.

CHARACTERISTICS OF GRIT

  • COURAGE-  Courage is not the absence of fear but the acquired ability to move beyond fear. Success requires the ability to use the energy fear creates as a motivator rather than allowing it to paralyze us which would indeed be the death of grit. The truth is fear is probably the most powerful motivator and can be the fuel you need to persevere.
  • ABILITY TO SET GOALS AND FOLLOW THROUGH- There couldn’t be a more important skill set to master for an entrepreneur than the art of goal setting and applying grit to reach these goals. As entrepreneurs we gain more freedom and flexibility  to create our own work schedules, work where we want, and decide what our focus will be for today and tomorrow. While I wouldn’t trade this for the world since freedom is one of my highest values, it does come with very high responsibility. It is far too easy to fall victim to the endless distractions we experience in this information overload society. Those that have the ability to define what they want most in life, create a vision and pursue this vision with tenacious perseverance will be the ones that succeed.
  • OPTIMISM-  There is no question about it, you will experience setbacks along your journey. How you perceive these setbacks determines whether you maintain the motivation to push through or give up. I read an interesting article on the subject of optimistic people versus pessimistic people. In the article the the author stated that pessimistic people were actually more realistic than optimistic people but optimistic people tend to be more successful. Why is that? Because if people see things better than they are, regardless as to whether or not this is “realistic”, they are more inclined to try again and show grit. Our emotional control and how we perceive the world play hand in hand with achievement.

  “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.”  – Napoleon Hill    –

 

HOW TO DEVELOP GRIT

Like almost anything in life, you can increase your level of grit with practice. Begin to incorporate grit into your life STARTING TODAY!

WHEN YOU COMMIT TO ACCOMPLISHING SOMETHING, SEE IT THROUGH TO COMPLETION. 

This is by far my biggest challenge when it comes to applying the principle of grit. There have been so many times I completed 90% of a project and then for whatever reason that final 10% just didn’t get done.  Thankfully since I became aware of this tendency I have made a conscious effort to improve in this area and guess what…I have drastically improved!

If you can relate to this it’s time to put your grit muscle to work! My challenge for you today is to choose one of these incomplete tasks/projects and commit to finishing it. Write it down somewhere you can see it each day and make it a priority to at least take one step to getting it DONE!

Completing this one goal may have more of an impact on your life than you think. When you accomplish something your brain releases a self-produced neurochemical, dopamine, that causes the feeling of happiness. The human body is designed to pursue feelings of pleasure so this accomplishment sets a looping process in motion.

Following through on your goal releases dopamine which causes a pleasurable feeling —>  Your brain learns that following through or “applying grit”, is pleasurable and you will naturally be more inclined to follow through again —> creating an upward spiral.  

Your job is to set the looping process in motion!