Raw ability alone is an inadequate predictor of success. In her New York Times bestseller Grit: The power of passion and perseverance, Angela Duckworth shows that the secret lies in a special blend of passion and persistence. She calls this grit.
There is both good news and bad news. If you have prodigious talent you will be disappointed to learn that the world is littered with latent/frustrated/fizzled-out talent. Talent needs to be harnessed. On the other hand, if you weren’t in the ‘prodigious queue’, the good news is that grit has been proven to win out.
There are many sporting legends who showed good, rather than outstanding, early promise. It was their willingness to train harder than their rivals that set them apart and put them in the record books. They exhibited determination in the face of inevitable setbacks and strove for achievements beyond the narrow confines of a comfort zone.
Sporting heroes whose achievements are measurable offer excellent examples of grit. It is applicable in all walks of life, though — great artists, authors, entrepreneurs, not-for-profit workers, business leaders—all need grit to push through barriers and reach their potential.
Ten steps to getting where you want to go
1. Identify what you care deeply about or love to do.
2. Identify the ‘what for?’ of your ultimate objective. Why is it important to you? Which of your values and strengths does it draw on?
3. Break down your ultimate objective into steps, if appropriate, and write down your SMART goals. Boost the chance of success by sharing them with somebody.
4. Set up a framework for accountability — who/how will you know you’re on track?
5. Embrace the idea that your full potential can only be realised if you are willing to be tested. Once you acknowledge that a fully lived life requires the satisfaction of overcoming obstacles, then you can start to relish challenges.
6. Have fun thinking of a metaphor for grit that inspires
you. A helpful image for me is myriad small particles combining to form a road — an essential and valuable resource.
7. Expect setbacks, and prepare yourself to see them as part of the journey. In my mind setbacks are inevitable like traffic lights in built-up areas. Red doesn’t mean grind to a halt forever. I see amber as the pause for reflection and learning. Green is the welcome go ahead, but it doesn’t appear in isolation. Conjure up a metaphor that works for you.
8. Arm yourself with quotes, anecdotes, role models and examples of your prior successes. Draw upon these for inspiration when the going gets tough.
9. Check in periodically to see whether you are on a path congruent with your values and strengths. Perseverance is valuable when harnessed to the right thing. An intelligent life requires re-appraisal and editing and for you to own the choices of how and with whom you spend time. Thoughtless perseverance can be a sign of disengaged rigidity and stubbornness. Beware the ‘boiling frog syndrome’, where you fail to notice what’s happening by increments.
10. Continuously seek opportunities to do more of what you love, remain open to new and fresh approaches, and give of yourself wholeheartedly.