I sat transfixed as I watched Angela’s Duckworth’s TED talk on Grit. So much of what she said, I knew to be true, even if I cannot quantify it. It is a concept that has so many applications, not just for our children, but in our personal lives, and of course, in business. Whatever you do in life, this concept of grit can help you achieve your goals and lead to great success, even if there isn’t yet a roadmap.
So let’s start this discussion about grit with a definition.
If you look up the word grit in the dictionary it is defined as courage and resolve; strength of character. Ms. Duckworth has a slightly different definition. She defined it as having passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Her definition really resonated with me and for the purpose of this post, it is the one that I will use.
I recently left my very good position with a company in the oil and gas sector to pursue my dream of running my business on a full-time basis. While it was a great company, with wonderful people, I started to feel like I wasn’t living my purpose or using all of my talents and gifts to create the life I wanted for myself and my boys. I didn’t make the move lightly, and have prepared for over a year, but I still felt fear at leaving. The stirring to go out on my own became undeniable and I knew when it was time to step out in faith and to give my all to running my business! I have fallen down before in business, many times, but each time, I get up again, not afraid to fail. I work hard and I give it everything I have. I learn and re-learn concepts that I thought I knew. I read, voraciously on topics I want to gain mastery of. And I’m not afraid to be vulnerable with those who are in the arena with me daring greatly. Turns out, I have many of the characteristics of grit! As excited as I was to learn this, I must now put them to work as I go for my dreams.
So let’s break down some of the key characteristics of grit.
- Go for the victory, not the tie. Unlike other sports, in soccer there exist the concept of a tie. After 90 minutes of playing, if the score is still 1-1, then that can be the final outcome of the game. There is no loser, or winner. While it’s fine to get a tie, it also means that no one definitively won the game. It can kinda feel like standing still. The concept of conscientiousness, which is one of the personality traits most closely associated with grit, it what is at play here. To be conscientious means that you are meticulous and you are goal-oriented and want to do a good job but you may work tirelessly and not get the result you have been striving for. In this case you don’t give up. You keep striving. because even though you got a tie this time, next time, you just know you will get the victory. Questions to answer: Are you putting the effort and energy necessary to achieve your goals and fulfill your purpose? Are you doing just enough to get by or are you going full-out?
- Follow through on your commitments. If you want to see forward growth, don’t be a flake. By this I mean, don’t be a person that forgets their commitments or keeps breaking them. Be a person of your word and do what you say you are going to do. This one trait will change the momentum of your life and your business. It will also build your consistency muscles, which will serve you well in all areas of your life. Questions to answer: Are you following through with your commitments? Where can you be more consistent?
- Develop the ability to learn and adapt. I have never stopped learning and you shouldn’t either. Even though I have been in my industry for 20+ years, I still don’t feel like I know it all. There are so many other things to learn and I will do it until the day I die. If you feel like you know it all, you are not growing. There are young people who are building successful brands using social media and with tools in a way I never thought of before. They continue to push the envelope. It has energized me! Don’t ever get complacent or be afraid to challenge yourself. You never know what you can do unless you try. Questions to answer: What have you been doing in your business that can be re-imagined? What are some areas for improvement that would make an immediate impact on the quality of service that you provide?
- Your practice must have purpose. Research has shown that it takes about 20 hours a week over 10 years or 10,000 hours to build a sphere of influence. There are obviously exceptions to this rule, but for the majority of people that’s what it takes. Keep putting in the work to get great at your craft. Purpose comes from things like wanting to make a difference in the lives of abused children, creating generational wealth for your family or saving the environment. These types of purposeful goals can propel you forward when obstacles fall in your path. Questions to answer: Are your goals aligned with your purpose? Do you applying the necessary time and energy towards achieving your goals?
- Be resilient and persevere despite the obstacles you face. This is one of the most critical components of being gritty. Even when things seem to be going awry, somewhere inside of you is the knowledge that you will regain your footing. Being resilient is knowing that the situation you are now in, is temporary. It does not mean that you don’t feel crappy while you are going through it. You do. That’s part of being authentic. Those uncomfortable feelings will be a great reminder of how you don’t want to feel this way again. Don’t forget all that you have been through. Those challenges and obstacles will keep you humble and remind you from where you’ve come. Questions to answer: Are you letting challenges or obstacles knock you down to the point that you never get back up? What are some of the lessons you’ve learned that have helped you create the life you now live?
- Have an attitude of excellence. This does not mean that you are a perfectionist, but it does mean that you want to set the bar in any area you are striving in. One is a character flaw and the other a characteristic of grit that you truly want to aspire to have. You want people to look at the work you do and see, not only quality, but an attitude of excellence. You want to be better, do better, never-resting on your laurels. No human is perfect, but if you keep striving to be and do better in the quest of your goals, you will achieve a level of success that you may not have dreamed was possible. Questions to answer: Do you have an attitude of excellence?
- Be willing to fail. How will you ever know if you can reach your goals if you never go for them? Had I not be willing to fail, I would still be with my company. All of life is a risk. People take risk in relationships all the time for love but can’t seem to apply those same feelings to business. I heard this somewhere and it always has stayed with me, “No risk, no reward”. Questions to answer: Is fear keeping you from even trying for what you truly want?
So I hope you will continue to work hard and to go for your dreams. To answer the question that I asked with this post, you can have grit even if you are not born with these six characteristics. Be meticulous in the pursuit of your dreams, always follow through on your commitments, continue learning and adapting, make sure your practice has a purpose, preserve and be resilient, have an attitude of excellence, and don’t be afraid to fail.
I really believe in you. I know that no matter how hard the obstacles you face, you are going to make an impact in the world. Keep reaching for your dreams and I would love to hear about how this post resonated with you.
Before you go watch Angela Duckworth’s 6:12 minute TED talk. It’s worth it.