Personal Grit: What is it & why it matters

Have you ever wondered how some people keep going like the energizer bunny even when times are tough?

This question, I am sure, is pondered by quite a few people looking for motivation to complete a dream or task in their life.  I notice people all the time that pursue a specific “thing” regardless of the setbacks and sometimes I am simply amazed.  I love the Olympic games for this very reason.  So many of those athletes overcame great odds and persisted for years to achieve their dreams.  What you can discover when digging deep into anyone’s story are the key points that helped get them from start to success and fueled them on the long road they traveled.

So what is grit exactly? See, grit is not actually one thing and it is certainly not motivation.   Grit instead is a combination of feelings, attitudes, habits, actions, and mindset.  If you think you don’t have grit the way other people have it, take a look back at your life and I bet you can find at least one instance when you seemed to trudge on regardless of what was happening along the way.

“Humans are creatures of habit. If you quit when things get tough, it gets that much easier to quit the next time. On the other hand, if you force yourself to push through it, the grit begins to grow in you.” .

– Travis Bradberry

I think one of the most iconic “grit” stories out there is Michael Jordan.  If you look back at his life (“The Last Dance” portrayed some of that story) and peel away the layers of superstardom, you will start to see all that Michael did to get him to where he was when he ended his basketball career.  For most people who have that “grit” story, you will so often NOT see all that it took to get where they are.  So much of the journey in “Grit” stories is hidden, not on purpose, but because it was the daily grind they put in before they reached the ultimate success.  As in Jordan’s case, it was the hours in the gym practicing, weightlifting, figuring out the diet, and yes even looking inside himself and find the inner motivation, drive and determination that always propelled him forward.

In the book, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth, the author delves in to 5 ingredients that help achieve Grit.

Showing up is half the battle – this is critical part to even get started.  So many people want something, but then they make no effort to even show up for the work. Ultimately to actually succeed at anything, one must first show up.

Talent alone is not enough – There are so many talented and incredibly smart people out there that never achieve any success or drop off after the initial success.  The Texas A&M Quarterback, Johnny Manziel, is a perfect example of how the initial success was short-lived and grit never took over after that.  He took for granted his success, maybe lost his direction and desire to be the best and gave up the dedication to practice and stay true to his path.

Effort counts twice – Effort each and every day is a huge part of the process and a huge part of grit.  Practice, repetition or doing work consistently is what pushes people to be successful.  Preparation, repetition, consistency, over and over again even after you get to the pinnacle makes the successful people winners every single time.

How gritty are you? – Endurance is the name of the game not intensity.  It’s great to be  100% passionate about something, but if endurance is not in that 100%, then success is but a dream.   This is where the mindset of “prep for the marathon, not the sprint” must be considered a huge role.  Grit is born when people know the long road ahead and continue on each and every day knowing the end result will be worth it.

Grit can be developed – Yes grit can be developed where is there is a genuine interest, with consistent long term practice, when you have an intense passion or feel on overwhelming purpose in something that grows each day regardless of the failures, and most especially when you believe that success is possible.  Habits form, mindset shifts and grit grows in your mind and in your heart.

Grit is best when it starts with a personal connection. Find foundation in your personal goals. Building your personal grit first will lay the foundation and the habit for building grit in your professional life. Explore things you love. Learn more about them and try them out. Discover what your interests are until you find one that lights up your soul. Building grit takes time and definitely building grit habits takes time. In the end though, the world is your oyster and it is up to YOU to make something of it.

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