How to Get Grit

Moving mountains with resilienceGrit, say psychologists, is the quality that makes us willing to commit to the long-term goals and see them through despite adversity. It’s a stick-to-it-ness requiring tenacity and a combination of  other qualities like courage, social support, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-motivation.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania who study resilience and grit say that grit is even more important than intelligence or talent when it comes to succeeding in school, work, and at other tasks. Grit is even the quality, according to research, that helps cadets survive at West point and kids win Spelling Bees. It leads to exceptional performance.

But, it isn’t some magical quality. We can all get grit.

If the only grit you can find in your life is in the grout between the tub tiles, then it’s time to take on some of these grit-building behaviors.

Face your fears. Obstacles are often a product of our fears. When we recognize our fears – loss, uncertainty, conflict, failure, whatever – and continue on despite them, we are building grit.

Ask for help. Those with the most grit, resilience, and determination leverage friends, family, support groups and other connections to support them during the difficult times and to encourage them during the good.

Engage your brain. Conscious awareness and engagement are aspects of grit. Gritty people become aware of their thoughts and work with them to persist. They also engage in activities that they are passionate about. They work hard and continue grow and learn what they need to know to accomplish their goals. They are flexible thinkers and able to see opportunities in the midst of chaos. They don’t believe every thought, but remain open and flexible finding the thoughts that serve them.

Find meaning and purpose. It’s easier to persist and bounce back from adversity when we care about what we are doing. When we feel like we are acting on purpose and pursuing something that matters, something that adds meaning and value not only to our lives, but perhaps the lives of others, we are apt to keep going even when it’s tough. A meaningful life isn’t always a comfortable life, but it contributes greater life satisfaction and well-being.

So next time you hit the wall consider muster of a few of these grit-building qualities. They’ll help you access the resilience you need to continue on.

What it Means to Be Gritty

Jerry's Big FinishYesterday, my husband finished a marathon.

An achievement for sure. The fact that he’s even walking around today and has already done the grocery shopping is, in my eyes, a mega-achievement. After all, walking to the mailbox can wipe me out.

But, it isn’t the strong finish that I was most impressed by or that he stayed awake on the drive home. Noteworthy, yes. Impressive no.

I was most impressed with all of the work he put in ahead of time. How he prevailed in training.

Almost every Saturday for a year, Mr. J would get up before dawn, throw on his fluorescent running gear, strap on a geeky-headlight so that he could see where he was running in the early-morning darkness, and run for three hours.

He would run at other times too, after work – sometimes around 9 p.m. after he’d put our daughter to bed. Or early, before guests arrived for the holidays. Six days a week he’d run. This went on for nearly a year. He stuck to it. He trained. He prepared. He just kept going.

That takes grit. And that is why, when he came racing over the finish line Sunday morning, I wasn’t at all surprised to see him looking so strong. He was ready before he even started. He had already prevailed.

Grit is the difference maker.

Grit it like persistence and optimism and dedication and resilience all boiled into one super power and researchers like Angela Duckworth say it’s the greatest predictor of success. Gritty people more likely to do the work, put in the effort and see their goal to the end  even when it means climbing out  of a warm bed at 4:30 a.m. to get in 20-miles before your family wakes up.

In Wednesday’s post, I’ll share some of the strategies for expanding on some of the natural grittiness we all posses, but for now consider this:

What are you willing to do to get what you want?

And, how will you keep after it, even when the path is clouded with obstacles and challenge?

What will you do to keep going?