What Is Grit and Why Does It Matter?

What Is Grit and Why Does It Matter?

What is grit?

The typical definition is a strength of character or resolve, but for a more nuanced understanding, we can turn to psychologist Angela Duckworth.

Early in her career, Duckworth was obsessed with understanding what made some individuals successful and others not. While our minds often look towards talent or IQ, she discovered something that played an even more pivotal role: grit.

In her own words, grit can be described as follows:

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.

From her research, she found that ultimately it was effort and not talent that determined success. She explained this idea with two simple formulas.formulas_gritAs you can see, effort is the common factor and counts two-fold when it comes to reaching your goals. It is necessary to not only develop your skills, but also achieve with them.

So what is the key to having grit? It can be broken down into four key components.

1. Interest

It begins with interest in a subject or discipline. The truth is, you’re not going to be willing to work hard when you hate what you’re working on.

So to find grittiness, you need to first discover things that not only capture your interest, but holds it. Far too often we stumble on something that ignites our curiosity, to only find it fade over time.

The key is the transition from just an interest to a passion. The thing is, passion takes time to develop, so don’t give up too soon. On the other hand, you’ll know when you stumble upon something that just clicks for you.

Find that and you’ll be well on your way.

2. Practice

Once you find that interest and hopefully passion, it comes down to practice. You have to practice deliberately, day after day, week after week, month after month, to develop any skill, but also grit.practiceYes Mr. Iverson, we’re talkin’ bout practice. It may not be the most glamorous thing, but it is essential for growth and reaching your goals.

If you’re not willing to put in the time to get good, then you will certainly never have grit.

3. Purpose

While the natural outcome of being good at what you do are often fame, money, and recognition, there is a need for a higher purpose as well.

Every individual needs some reason, beyond themselves, to keep working hard and doing what they do. Without it they will give up, quit, or simply feel unfulfilled. Having that purpose keeps you going and happy to do so.

The thing is, it need not be some world changing reason. It can be as simple as building a better world for your kids or putting a smile on others faces.

It is purpose that keeps you motivated to keep moving forward, no matter the challenges you face.

4. Belief

Finally, you need self-belief that you can achieve your goals. Without it, why would you put in the time and effort to practice, to get better, and to help others?

A key part of belief is your mindset. Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset, shared two distinct ways to look at your situation: fixed vs. growth.

If you have a fixed mindset you believe that you are what you are, no matter what you do. You believe that natural talent is all that matters.

To have grit though, you need to have the growth mindset. This means you believe in yourself, you acknowledge that hard work, discipline, and effort can change your situation.

You control the outcome.

Over time, grit is what separates fruitful lives from aimlessness.John Ortberg

The importance of grit has often been overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. In fact, it’s become ever clearer that grit may in fact matter more than intelligence or empathy or talent.

Hard work can take you a lot farther than any other trait you have, and it’s also a trait that you completely control, if you choose to.

If you want to learn more, check out the TED Talk that started it all and the recently released book, Grit by Angela Duckworth.