When reflecting on the kinds of people that are successful, what comes to mind? Confident. Talented. Outgoing. Positive. Hard-working. Fearless. Communicative. Big thinkers. Problem solvers.
Think of those people who have ‘the personality’ for success. Maybe it’s your boss, maybe it’s a coworker, employee, brother or sister, parent, coach, or a dear friend. Some people are just going places — they have this zeal for life. They’re motivated; on top of it. Though these people might not be the most talented or the smartest, their work ethic is next to none.
As of late there’s been focus on a characteristic that explains this stamina in work ethic and has been correlated as a key to success: grit.
What Is Grit?
A couple definitions of grit that came up are: firmness of mind or spirit; unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger; courage and resolve; strength of character; perseverance; determination.
Angela Duckworth in a TED Talk shares her experience about how she began to study grit. As a math teacher to 7th graders in New York City, she noticed that her most successful kids weren’t always the brightest. Though they were intelligent they didn’t quite always have that ‘gift’ or ‘talent’ as we might describe it. She quit her job as a teacher and went on to graduate school to become a psychologist and began researching.
In a wide range of locations and situations she began to study people — from military cadets in training at West Point, children at the National Spelling Bee, brand new teachers in rough neighborhoods, and even partnered with private companies to monitor the success of salesmen.
The driving question behind this research was: “Who is successful here, and why?”
There began to be a strong correlation that grit was a strong predictor as to who would rise and be successful.
Duckworth describes grit as “having passion and perseverance for very long-term goals”. It’s that stick with it attitude, the set determination to keep moving forward through thick and thin. Grit is being passionate for long periods of time; having stamina; sticking with the future one set out to attain and making that future the reality.
Angela expounds on this idea more on her website:
"Grit is about having what some researchers call an ‘ultimate concern’–a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow. Talent and luck matter to success. But talent and luck are no guarantee of grit. And in the very long run, I think grit may matter as least as much, if not more.”
Grit in the Business World
The world as we know it today has become, due to the gritty people that have made it so. Take Thomas Edison for example. He set out to find a way to make a light bulb, but he didn’t figure it out before years of trial and error. He famously said “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. That’s grit. That’s being passionate for long periods of time. Edison set out with an idea and didn’t quit until he achieved it. He made a lasting impact on the world and changed it for the better, because he was passionate and gritty.
What’s your vision? What have you set out to do? Are you on track? Are there too many things on your mind? Do you finish what you start? Are you gritty?
Take Duckworth’s short grit scale questionnaire and see where you measure up. It’s not a fool proof questionnaire, due to its self-reflective nature. It’s easy for one to give slightly better or untrue answers to appear better than they seem. Duckworth says, “your score not only reflects how gritty you are but also the standards to which you hold yourself.” Although it is not an accurate way to determine who has more grit, these are statements that can be used to reflect on one’s work ethic. Use these to prompt changes within yourself and to spark conversation with current and future employees.
Duckworth determined that by the answers to these types of questions she was able to determine who would be more likely to succeed. Some students simply were more dedicated and outworked the others.
You want to hire an employee that will stick with it, work hard, figure it out for themselves and give their best work. Duckworth says she felt like the math being taught wasn’t out of any students reach to understand had they worked “hard and long enough”. In life and especially in the working world, the employees that have the determination to work hard and long enough at one task to be successful are those that every company could use more of. So, if after the first month of working, will your employee quit because they don’t stick with it? Seek those with a work ethic that’ll outwork you. Scout out those with a vision — those that know what they want and won’t give up until they achieve it.
Grit Is a Lifestyle
It seems that grit is one step further than just being teachable. It’s being teachable but also having the desire to be taught.
Duckworth began researching grit because of her experiences with students, but are we not students for the rest of our lives? Or at least, aren’t we meant to be students for the rest of our lives?
Isn’t life all about self-improvement and continuing to learn? Grit shows a passion for learning and being better tomorrow than you were today. One of the definitions given for grit was ‘strength of character’. Maybe grit is partly deciding who you are as a person and what you stand for and having the resolve and determination to live up to who you truly are, or the person you want to be.
Our lives will be determined by the choices we consistently make. Following through on commitments are essential. It’s taking those dreams we all once dreamed of and making them our reality. As Margaret Perlis put it, being gritty is committing “to go for the gold rather than just show up for practice”. There’s effort to be paid and mistakes to be made in order to achieve the end result. Perlis also describes grit as “allowing and embracing failure and vulnerability on the ongoing quest for improvement. It allows for disappointment, and prioritizes progress over perfection.”
Don’t expect immediate results, but be determined to fight for the process, however long that may take.
4 Steps to Be Grittier
1. Daily schedules/routines – There’s impact and compound results in the little actions. Read into this idea more by Thomas Oppong on Thrive Global, here. Reading 5 pages of inspiring business books daily can be a huge boost. Big goals are reached by dedication and commitment to those small incremental goals. Be consistent.
2. Review, reflect and improve – One time mistakes don’t have to define us. We give mistakes the power to define us when we dismiss them and never recognize them as mistakes. Take ownership. Identify it, resolve it, and improve.
3. Decide to think positively – Decide that you are in charge of your future and setbacks won’t get in the way of who you are and where you want to go.
4. Help to inspire others – It’s a snowball effect. Ignite your own flame and then turn and help others. Momentum comes from helping to inspire others by sharing our own stories and experiences.
Thanks for reading. Visualogistix is rooting for you and all of your noteworthy endeavors.