When I was a kid, “Grit” was an advertisement in my comic books for some kind of newsletter with which I could earn big bucks from door-to-door sales. While I somehow resisted that temptation, today we learn from author Paul Stoltz that real Grit can be beneficial to your career and business. – Paul Worthington
What Is GRIT And Why Is It Essential To Your Success?
by Paul G. Stoltz, Ph.D.
Today, “grit” is a hot topic in leadership, education, performance, and personal success. However, the conversation often focuses only on appreciating and understanding basic grit, or what I call “grit 1.0.” Grit 1.0 is about degree or quantity of perseverance or persistence, as in “How persistent are you?” or “How much grit does she have?”
The time has come to advance the conversation and upgrade GRIT.
The research my team and I embarked on in the development of my new book reveals that quality may actually trump quantity. Enter Grit 2.0: comprised of four dimensions. Growth, Resilience, Instinct, and Tenacity.
When it comes to upgrading from grit 1.0 to GRIT 2.0, the key is to focus on not just how much, but how. Relentlessly going after your goals in ways that are even unintentionally harmful to others, or beating your head to a bloody pulp rather than re-assessing or re-routing your approach, may score high on quantity, not so much on quality. It turns out that growing both quality and quantity —holistic improvement of GRIT—creates the biggest upside. Here are five simple starter tips.
Growth—Growth is a mindset. But, when it comes to GRIT, research reveals it is about more than having a “growth” or “fixed” mindset. In the world of GRIT, Growth encompasses your propensity to rise above the immediate situation to seek fresh, alternative perspectives, ideas, and insights as a way to improve your approach, expertise, and chances of success.
“Gritify” any goal or plan by asking, “What additional, new, fresh insight/information/input should I/we seek to enhance our current plan and long-term chances of success?”
Resilience—It’s hard to imagine but, when I began my research 35 years ago, I literally had to explain (and often spell!) the term “resilience” with any client or firm with whom I was exploring methods for measuring or enhancing this core element of human endeavor. To this day, when I ask a group of hundreds of people, “If someone is resilient they…?” The room-wide response is, “Bounce back!”
But resilience is about much more than bouncing back. In our collaborative efforts with Harvard Business School and MIT, we arrived at this definition: Resilience is your capacity to be strengthened and improved by adversity. So, the ultimate quest is to become more “Response Able.” Response Ability is, your ability to respond optimally to whatever happens the moment it strikes.
Every time you face any adversity, simply ask, “How can I/we respond more optimally—better and faster—to this adversity?” Or, “How can we harness this adversity, so we look back and say, ‘Thank goodness this happened, we’d never be where we are now if it hadn’t!’”
Instinct—Think about that person who consistently pursues the wrong goals, or goes after their dreams in less than effective ways. Over time, that pattern can lead to a tragic life. That’s why Instinct, your gut level propensity to pursue the right goals in the best possible ways, is so critical to true GRIT.
Relentlessness is powerful. Refined relentlessness is unbeatable. That’s why knowing when to step back, re-assess, and if necessary re-route is key to long-term effort, energy, and success.
“Gritify” any effort by simply asking these questions: “Is this still the right goal? Is this the best possible version of the goal? If not, how would we refine the goal to make it even more compelling and true? Is our current plan the best way to get there? If not, how can we refine and improve our approach to at least increase our chances of success?”
Tenacity—Persistent, unrelenting effort defines what most of us think of when we hear the word, “grit.” Our research shows that most people who accomplish something truly noteworthy go through a period of perceived zealotry, meaning the people closest to them begin to question their judgment. Yet it is that one additional, beyond-any-reasonable-expectation effort that creates the breakthroughs the rest of us get to admire and enjoy.
GRIT-up your pursuits by asking, “If we were to give this one more wholehearted effort, where and how should I/we go for it to most dramatically enhance progress and success?”
G-R-I-T. This is what True GRIT is all about. But none of it means a thing, without that thing deep inside you that makes you want to take it on in the first place. That’s where Tip #5 comes into play.
“WhyTry”—Amp Up, then Align Your Why and Your Try
If GRIT is your capacity to dig deep and do whatever it takes—ever sacrifice, struggle, and suffer—to achieve your most difficult and worthy goals, then your reason, your why, must be massively compelling. One simple tool my team and I use with people is called the WhyTry™. Here’s how it works. Ask yourself (or others):
How strong is our Why? (1-10)
How strong is our Try? (1-10)
What do we need to do to maximize and align them both?
How many people have you known slaving away at a job, an assignment, or anything where their Try is maybe a 9, and their Why has dimmed to a 2? Not only is that imbalance unsustainable, it is extremely draining.
Conversely, what happens when the Why is a 10, and the collective Try is a 3? Answer: Not much. Some of the resulting poisons worth listing include disappointment, delays, frustrations, compromises of integrity that come from overpromising and under-delivering, guilt from not doing what you know you should be doing, etc.
Amp up, then align your why and your try, regularly, and you’ve gritified your effort, while enhancing your chances of success.
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Obviously, these simple tips serve as a basic, but meaningful start—a pocket Swiss army knife you can whip out and employ—to grow your GRIT.
Ultimately, the path to greater GRIT never ends, nor can its potential to fuel a “gritifying” life be overstated. As my team and I coach people and see them make real strides, the ultimate quest for them, and for all of us, becomes something I call “Optimal GRIT,” demonstrating the Smartest, “Goodest”, Strongest G-R-I-T, in all that you do.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul G. Stoltz, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of Peak Learning, Inc. as well as the originator of Adversity Quotient® and GRIT™ theories and methods, used at Harvard Business School, MIT, and leading companies worldwide. Stoltz is the author of five international bestsellers, based on his pioneering research and applications, published in 15 languages, including GRIT: The New Science of What it Takes to Persevere · Flourish · Succeed.