There are only two kinds of people in the world, those who give up and others who don’t. It is very hard not to give up when you are confronted with tough times, struggles, failures, rejections and disappointments. The ones who don’t give up are very few & rare individuals. They have grit.
Every great entrepreneur, artist, athlete, scientist and just about every top professional has felt this pressure, when they want to give up & quit. Those who don’t quit and persevere through trying times eventually get rewarded with great achievements in life.
The ability to persist is rare and a phenomenal quality that is the hallmark of all great achievers. Creativity, intelligence & talent aren’t as important as grit for outstanding achievements in life.
According to psychologist Angela Duckworth, the secret to outstanding achievement isn’t talent, but persistence and passion that she calls grit. Her research was done studying people to understand high achievers and what makes them successful.
The results were surprising. It wasn’t the SAT scores or IQ scores. Not even a degree from Ivy League or the best universities in the world that could predict success. Duckworth said, “It was a combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special, in a word, they had grit.”
What is being gritty? Well, according to Duckworth, it is the ability to persevere, work hard, stay resilient and constantly improve yourself in the process.
The ability to finish something you start, willingness to continue even when faced with difficulties, obstacles and failures. It is using negative feedback for improving yourself, your work and iterating until you get it right.
How you handle pressure and setbacks is an important skill that makes people successful. Do you back off and crack down under pressure? Or you build your capabilities to handle tough situations by being mentally strong and improve yourself in various disciplines until you achieve what you want.
Successful people reflect on what they are doing. They take feedback for their work, analyze where they are lacking and consistently improve themselves with time. They improve because they are deliberately trying to better themselves not just going through the motions.
Success in business and life owes a lot to perseverance. For any outstanding achievement, you need time, skills and consistent efforts. When you’re passionate about something, you enjoy the journey. It is the only way you can carry on and on, because the reward is in the journey itself. It’s the process you follow that eventually leads to the outcomes.
Stanford researcher Catharine Cox studied over 300 distinguished historical figures. She concluded that persistence beats intelligence in the long run. Her study revealed, “High but not the highest intelligence, combined with the greatest degree of persistence, will achieve greater eminence than the highest degree of intelligence with somewhat less persistence.”
How you can develop more Grit
1. Be passionate about What You Do
It’s almost impossible to excel at something you don’t like. The most successful sportspersons, professionals, programmers, athletes, musicians and artists love what they do.
The love and interest for what you are doing occupies your heart and soul. Your mind is tuned into what you are doing. You are constantly thinking of ways to get better and do better.
This is the secret reason why they can spend more time and practice into what they do. When you like your work, enjoy doing things you love and get to improve, you are setting yourself up for long-term success.
2. Skills and Efforts
Gritty people improve themselves; they work on their skills and fail forward. They are constantly practicing their craft and put in lot of time for getting better. They work hard and put in the efforts required to succeed at the top level.
Focus on what you are doing wrong, where you need to improve and how you can take your game to the next level all the time. An obsessive focus on improvement will put you in a very elite group of people.
When you are constantly improving, you start to enjoy the work you’re doing. You build up new skills & become more efficient at doing things. It make you feel confident to take on challenges that others would be shy of.
3. Purpose driven
Is your work really important? Will your success impact the society & others? Is there a purpose behind what you’re doing? Asking some of these questions can set your expectations right.
Top achievers are purpose driven. They know the value of their work & grind it out, because they know that their success can make a positive contribution.
People who are driven by a bigger purpose contribute whole heartedly and want to make positive impact by their work. When you truly believe in your mission & want to create a positive impact with what you are doing, you don’t give up even when the going is tough.
4. Maximise Your Energy & Power:
When confronted with very hard challenges, some people give up others strive and succeed. What is the difference between those who give up and others who persist? Many a times, it is the question of deep rooted beliefs.
In the book Maximum Brainpower, there is a very good explanation that summarises how our brains work.
“Our physical strength is not accessible to us if the brain does not believe in the outcome, because the worst possible thing for humans to do is to expend all of our resources and fail. If we do not believe we can make it, we will not get the resources we need to make it. The moment we believe, the gates are opened, and a flood of energy is unleashed. Both hope and despair are self-fulfilling prophecies.”
So, our deep rooted beliefs and attitude towards what we are doing drives our energies. We have access to more power and energy when we truly believe in what we are doing. It helps us go the extra mile. Belief is often the difference between truly world class and mediocre work.