What is Grit? Why does it matter?

Many believe that success is based on intelligence or talent. That people with the highest IQ or being gifted in a specific area are those most likely to succeed. Spoils go to the smartest, best trained, and most connected, right? Wrong! Psychologists have found there’s one other trait that almost always works with wit and ability when it comes to measuring success—grit.

Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth (srsly, Duckworth) has studied the concept of grit. She believes that despite outward advantages someone may have, often the deciding factor of success is grit over natural ability. Her work shows that there are bigger forces at play in those who rise and achieve at higher levels.

What is grit? Passion and the perseverance to pursue long term goals. It is the use of stamina and “sticking to it” until you get the outcome you desire. It’s seeing the issues and using tools to stay the path over long periods. It’s running a marathon every day in life.

Why does grit matter? The world is constantly going faster, becoming more competitive, and—in many ways—more hostile. You have to stay focused and be adaptable. Developing grit increases your coping skills, your self-awareness, and gives you an edge over others. An edge you need in order to achieve in family, health, and career.

One great example of modern-day grit is the reality show Survivor. It pits capable men and women against each other in insanely hostile and depriving conditions. Contestants vie to outwit, outplay, and outlast each other for the big prize. Their physical and mental abilities are definitely assets, but the prize goes to the contestant who has the most grit and ability to withstand the abuses—physical and mental—the longest.

Grit, and how it applies to success, isn’t something people often discuss because it’s intangible. There’s no formula to follow to increase your grit, but there are actions you can take to increase stress management, stamina, and the ability to outlast issues in your life.

I want you to remember that developing grit is far from easy, but it’s also not impossible. Adding grit to your skill set is an amazing way to increase personal growth and satisfaction in all facets of your life. Once you develop a grittier perspective, you’ll move through life in a way that others envy.

How Grit Will Matter in Your Personal Life

Grit—the ability to stick it out when the going gets tough and the tough gets going. It’s the glue that holds you together when all you want to do is throw in the towel. Grit is that part of you that says you can and by God you will make it through to the other side. It sees a way when all hope seems lost.

No matter the problem—a breakup, bankruptcy, parenting issues, or a health problem—you can get through to the other side. Grit will help you weather the storm and persevere.

How can grit improve your personal life? Developing a skill for one area of your life truly applies to every aspect of your life. Becoming grittier will automatically enhance your personal life—no extra action required.

Let’s look at the ways grit matters in your personal life:

  • Increased communication skills. A deep relationship requires you to share your thoughts and feelings in healthy ways. Grittier people automatically develop communication skills, share their needs openly and honestly, and ultimately foster more meaningful relationships.
  • Extending kindness and grace. A by-product of grit is a willingness to be graceful and forgive. People with high levels of grit see the world through a wide lens and extend patience, gratitude, and kindness—even when it might not be deserved. Grit gives people the ability to withstand tough people and tougher situations which creates a larger tolerance. This enhances relationships because you then have more time to foster growth and change with even the most difficult people in the world.
  • Becoming unaffected by the little things. Someone with grit usually doesn’t sweat the small stuff. They’ve mastered the art of letting things go and tend to be un-phased by the first world problems that drain others. Grittier people are capable of attaining a “live and let live” view of life. They rarely attach judgement to other people’s emotions.
  • Increased loyalty. In a world where fifty percent of first marriages end in divorce and seventy-five percent of second—and subsequent—marriages fail, people with grit develop loyalty against the odds. They don’t run when the honeymoon period ends. They roll up their sleeves and search for a way to stoke the fires to get past their issues.

Experiencing a difficult time at work or in the community could be your catalyst for developing grit, but that personal growth will flow to encompass every aspect of your life. Embrace the benefits of becoming a better communicator who is easygoing and loyal.

How Grit Will Matter in Your Professional Life

I’m sure that in your time in the workforce, you’ve been managed by amazing leaders as well as those who you’d like to toss off a building. Typically, the best leaders are approachable, practical, and outside-the-box thinkers. They’d be considered gritty.

Whether you’re general staff, management, or an entrepreneur, having grit will set you apart from the generic herd. You’ll be able to withstand criticism, approach problems creatively, and solve those issues others can’t—or won’t—touch. All of it will leave others behind, watching you move forward with amazement.

I don’t care how you earn your money, you goal is to rise to the top of the mountain and take the lead wherever you’re able.

Here’s how grit matters in your professional life:

  • Work smart, not hard. The grittiest of the grit-havers know that an outcome isn’t tied to time, but to effort. It’s not about how much time you put into a project because the key is to work smart. Grit gives you the ability to discover paths to increased productivity, help you identify key concepts, and allow you to discover aspects that others overlook. A great example would be Timothy Ferris and his best-seller: The Four Hour Work Week.
  • Increased know, like, and trust factor. People who get stuff done have the respect they’re due. Being that dependable employee that always says “yes” to any challenge is one that will rise to the top. The Latin proverb “fortune favors the bold” reminds us that the spoils go to those who take risks and do more to stand out. Definitely something that’s a product of grit.
  • More promotions and raises. Unless you work for a union where your rise through the ranks is determined by time spent on the job, getting a raise or more responsibility typically comes from effort. In today’s competitive market, it takes more effort than ever to stand out and break free from the pack. But having grit and the ability to do more than others will ensure you’re front-and-center when it’s time for raises and promotions.
  • Greater stamina and problem-solving skills. A lot of projects require early mornings, late nights, balancing family, and enduring multiple pressures. An entrepreneur trying to transition from side-hustle to full-time independence is going to have to handle long hours to reach their goals and may work two jobs. Grit gives you the stamina to commit to long-term goals while handling the short-term pain. Taking risks—and failing—result in valuable lessons learned that help you develop problem-solving skills.

Earning money is a necessary part of everyday life and making the most with as little effort as possible is your ideal. Crawling to the top of your profession and being seen as a competent and respected leader is a worthy goal and grit is your secret ingredient.

3 Ways to Develop More Grit

Grit is born of passion. Gritty people are those that are down-and-dirty, take-no-prisoner types who want a specific outcome more than they want a scapegoat. Grit isn’t arrogance, it’s a powerful form of determination that is rooted in the belief that anything is possible.

Some people might look at Type A individuals as the only ones that exhibit gritty personalities, but they’re wrong. Anyone with a drive to do what it takes to find a target and reach a goal—or weather a challenge—has the potential to develop grit. Not just those “Type A” people.

Is there a direct path you can follow to find grit? Nope. But there are opportunities in all areas of life to help you develop more grit.

Here are some tips to increase your grit:

  • Become anti-fragile. Gritty people aren’t delicate little flowers. They don’t expect a participation trophy. They respond with strength when they’re forced to endure something they dislike. Grit comes from realizing that everyone faces things they don’t want or don’t understand. And instead of being reactionary, they focus on what needs to happen to withstand and push past the difficulties.
  • Have a growth mindset. Gritty people have a growth mindset—being open to new ways of thinking, behaving, and being open to criticism and hearing the word “no.” those are all part of the gritty persons toolbox. They also are willing to stand up for something that matters. That doesn’t mean they champion every cause and theory, though. Grit is discerning and chooses wisely. The discernment works with your focus and actions which reduces the chatter that distracts from what truly matters.
  • Learn to adapt. We are guaranteed trouble in life and it’s the survivors who learn to adapt. Grit allows you to adapt to unpleasant things. It’s what brings a man lost in the mountains the courage to eat bugs to live and search for shelter and water until he’s found. Grit is what gives someone the ability to overcome a difficult childhood to study hard and leave that situation behind when graduation day comes. It’s what gets a soldier through battle, injury, and trauma.

Grit probably feels intangible until a situation calls for more than you think you have to give—more than you’re willing to sacrifice. Grit becomes real when you seek to overcome more than you want to give up. You’ve probably developed grit in the past but didn’t have a label for your feelings and actions. Think back to a time you persevered against everything that was pulling you down. That was a time you developed grit.

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Celia Kyle

Celia Kyle is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of paranormal and science fiction romance, as well as non-fiction for authors.

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