Developing Grit: The Best Way to Improve Your Life

Developing Grit: The Best Way to Improve Your Life

You know that feeling you get when you’re at the bottom of a canyon, looking up? You can’t see anything but the sky. And it’s so quiet all around you. The only sound is your breathing and maybe some water dripping from rocks in the distance. It’s like nothing else exists because there are no other people or buildings to remind you this world isn’t yours alone. Suddenly, it feels like anything is possible – which sounds ridiculous considering how many things are stopping us from doing what we want with our lives every day. But that feeling doesn’t lie – grit breaks through barriers by sheer force of will.

Ok, maybe you’re not a rock climber, but you can relate to the symbolic context here. Because in the real world, there are barriers. There’s always something stopping us from doing what we want with our lives. Except for this time, it’s not water dripping down a rock face but real-life responsibilities like mortgages or car payments. Maybe it’s disappointment or the loss of a loved one. The point is, something is standing between where we are and where we want to be.

So, how do we get to where we want to be? The answer: grit.

Grit is a hot word in the business and leadership world. It’s a new buzzword. We want to know, what is grit, and how do we get it?

What is Grit?

Grit is defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals. It’s the ability to overcome challenges while staying focused on success. Grit can be considered determination or courage in an objective, especially compared to IQ or talent. Some studies have found that grit is a stronger predictor of success than other factors, such as social intelligence or IQ. One study showed that students with determination and focus were more likely to earn higher grades in school. Other studies have shown that people passionate about their interests and willing to work hard to achieve them tend to do better in life.

The Gritty Formula

Is the formula for grit really that simple? Determination plus focus equal grit?

Grit is a hard thing to quantify, making it very important in the world of mental toughness.

It all starts with passion. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, then you won’t have the drive required to succeed.

But passion alone isn’t enough to succeed.

You need discipline, focus, and determination if you want to turn your passion into reality. And it’s these attributes that combine together to form grit. When someone is gritty, they are determined not to give up until the goal has been realized. Their determination is on their goals, and their discipline means that they will work diligently to achieve those goals. In other words, grit is the stick-with-it-ness that you need to succeed.

Now that we know what grit is let’s look at how to get it.

How to get Grit?

We saw previously that grit is a function of determination plus focus. Determination is a function of passion. So, the first thing we need to do is become passionate about something. But, this isn’t always easy because many factors influence passion. It is essential to recognize that everything requires effort and energy. For example, if you want to be passionate about reading novels, you need to make an effort to do it every day. Of course, this may not always be possible because of external factors. Sometimes you might be too tired. Sometimes you may not have time because of other activities like school and work. It is essential to prioritize these things and make an effort every day; otherwise, your determination will falter. People who lack passion also lack determination. Once your passion fades, your goal accomplishment rate drops.

The formula for passion is simple. Think about it every day. Never get tired of thinking about it. When you are not thinking about it, remember to do so. Keep doing it every day. That’s what passion is all about. It’s a straightforward concept, but many people don’t find the time in their busy schedules to think passionately even though they want that in life. Passion Comes from familiarity and expertise.

What is focus?

The second part of grit is a focus. Not regular focus, but an extreme focus. Most of the time, you will find yourself focusing on a specific skill to improve. Still, sometimes it’s just knowing what target to focus on is the most important. This is where focusing on the actual process becomes essential. Like most remarkable achievements, the real accomplishment rests in the journey that got us there. Don’t get caught up in the destination, the final product, or the goal. Get lost along the way in what you can learn and how far you’ve come. This is when the magic happens.

Be determined to hit your goals. Focus on the process to get yourself there. Be prepared to do whatever it takes. Success requires hard work and sacrifices. Take pride in your career. Bring your best every day. Enjoy the journey. One way to focus on your journey is to look to where you want to end up. Work backward to set goals from the end product. Be focused on each small task along the way. Let’s be honest. No one wants to struggle. No one wants to work hard and get little in return. No one wakes up excited for the next challenge or opportunity to make you feel like you can’t breathe.

Grit and success.

In a recent study, a research team at the University of Pennsylvania analyzed data from a large sample of university students and found that grit was the best predictor of academic performance. In another recent study led by Duckworth herself, researchers tracked 875 teenagers for two years. They found that those who possessed a combination of self-control and grit were less likely to exhibit problem behaviors than their less gritty peers—and more likely to succeed in life.

Grit is challenging. Being gritty means accepting new challenges and finding ways to master them. Grit is not a talent. It’s a lifestyle, and it can be learned. The people who tell you grit is something you’re born with are wrong. In fact, developing grit might just be the most important thing you can do to improve your life, both at work and beyond. A large body of research shows that people who stick with difficult things are more likely to succeed than those who don’t. A similar factor may also determine life satisfaction. As Churchill once said, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Be Passionate

It is essential to be passionate about your goals and not get tired of them. Passion comes from familiarity and expertise, so if you want more passion in your life, spend time every day thinking about it and doing what you love. Grit means accepting new challenges and finding ways to master them; grit can also come with a lifestyle that needs self-control or willpower. Acknowledging the struggle will lead to success in life at some point! Be gritty when faced with complex tasks because it’s worth the effort. Even when challenging, there are many benefits for being determined enough to see things through.

Whether you are struggling through a difficult period in your life or stuck in your passionless job, there’s something for everyone to learn from this post on grit! Sometimes, it is challenging to find motivation and joy in life sometimes–the best way to do so is by working towards a goal.

Aritfacts and Work Culture

As I was sitting in the office of another department head, I started noticing things on the walls. The walls weren’t filled with the ‘I love me’ certificates or notes of achievement that is come to be expected in an office setting. His walls and bookcases were filled with what seemed to be a random assortment of items. There was a stufffed cat, a picture of a donkey, a replica WWE championship belt and various photos that were somewhat embarrassing for the leader to have on display.

I started asking about all of the clutter, the seemingly off placement of items. What began as a conversation about culture and productivity.

He had created a culture in which the employees honestly felt as they were a family. The office was less of a shrine to himself and more of a display of inside jokes and memories of great times. Everything in the office, even the weird stuffed cat, had a meaning to someone or a group of people within the group. The stories that were told along with each item made it clear to me why his department when performing at such a high level of efficiency.

There was a large amount of trust built into the workgroup. There were a vast amount of memories made into each random item and with it an emotional connection to the workgroup.

As the trust and inside jokes increased, so did the productivity. The employees felt safe and welcomed. Simply creating an environment in which the people were the value had effectively made the workgroup under his command stick out.

How do you create an environment and atmosphere that makes people stay safe? Value others and embrace their personalities. Their and your careers depend upon it.

Perspective (Continued)

I share this from a conversation I had with a young professional employee. A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of understanding the perspective from which the person you are trying to communicate with is internalizing your message. A few days after publishing that, I was contacted by a subscriber whom shared with me an excerpt from a conversation they had with a co-worker.

In the story, their coworker was complaining about ‘millennials’ and their lack of work ethic. The coworker went on to degrade the generation for not being as committed to the organization as generations in the past as well as highlighting a few other stereotypes about ‘millennials.’

Politely, the younger worker, who is 29, replied with; “I’m a millennial, do you think I exhibit these characteristics?”

The coworker simply stated, you’re too old to be a millennial and continued down the path of complaining and stereotyping.

As the conclusion of this conversation, the young employee pointed out things from their perspective:

“It’s not our fault that the baby boomers pushed us all to go into college. It’s not our fault that we were told the only way to be successful was to become a white-collar professional. We have simply been over-educated to the point to where nobody wants to get their hands dirty because we have been told since adolescents that success comes from being in an office setting.”

From a perspective stance, I find this thought-provoking. There are many ways to utilize those few sentences in the workforce to lead, motivate, and inspire other people. The first step in doing so is to fully understand. Understand where your coworkers and employees may be coming from. To know how they are internalizing things and to act accordingly.

Perspective

What perspective are you using as a leader? Many times, we view the world through the lens of our experiences and we automatically assume other people see the world in the same manner as ourselves. The reality is, that could not be further from the truth.

When we deal with others, we must be certain that we make a strong effort to view the world as they see it. In an attempt to communicate a thought or an idea, we must understand how the other person receives and processes information.

We have all seen the co-worker or employee that has a struggle in their personal life bleed over into the workplace. It is a natural thing that, as much as we try not to, still occurs with regularity. As a leader, do you view how they are processing information or do you address performance deficiencies without thought?

If a person is struggling in their marriage and is beginning to have issues at work, could a simple conversation, if not handled appropriately, lead to the employee feeling as though they are being rejected in the workplace as well as at home? Simply taking the time to analyze what is going on with an employee, and understanding them to the best of your abilities can have a significant impact on employee morale as well as productivity.

While this is one example, it can be replaced with many. Is the employee in the middle of a life change, baby on the way, a new house being built, newly promoted? The list goes on.

Bottom line, as a leader, it is your responsibility to analyze the employee’s perspective and how they will interpret information presented. It is then your duty to treat your people accordingly.

Encourage Innovation

As a leader, you likely have some formal role or authority over a person or group of people within your work environment. As such, do you recognize when you are stifling their innovation?

Leaders must take into account the knowledge, skills, and abilities of their subordinates in their daily routines. While having a hand in the development of employees is an essential task of a leader. It can, however, stifle innovation within the organization. Take for example an employee who is performing at or above an acceptable level of performance. Continued intervention within the employee’s progress can stifle their growth. Simply put, at some point, we, as organizational leaders, must stop guiding and directing in such proximity. We must have the self-awareness to take a step back and allow our people to flourish.

Additionally, leaders must be so engaged as to observe a developmental struggle unfold and take action accordingly. If the employee is beginning to fail, intervention is necessary. Failing to intervene and offer guidance before failure can disrupt an employees confidence. As confidence is directly related to commitment, as confidence diminishes, as do commitment levels.

Sometimes, relinquishing control may seem hard to do. Taking a step back and allowing your people to grow in their way can breathe new life into your organization. Additionally, there are indirect consequences including increased buy-in from employees as they feel they have a say in the overall vision of the organization. Other benefits include increased commitment levels to the organization, opened lines of communication and one of the most important things, a succession plan.

3 Tips for Teaching Engagement

We have all seen the leader who seems to be checked out. Seemingly aloof and uninterested in anything from the organizational level. The leader who is possibly distracted by outside superfluities of modern life; television shows, sports, personal issues, etc. Conversely, we have seen the exact opposite. We have seen the leader that seems to know a bit about everything. They are in tune with the organization and have a healthy balance between ‘being in the know’ and knowing what and when to act on accordingly.
The age-old question of higher level management is; “How do you get supervisors engaged?
At the root of disengagement are several factors. Perhaps the supervisor is experiencing a personal stressor such as divorce, death in the family, financial strain. The list goes on. Possibly they are experiencing burnout symptoms. For the sake of this article, let’s focus on one of the most common explanations. The supervisor is either new as a supervisor or even have been supervising others for years but, never made the change mentally into supervision.
Being a supervisor and leader requires a shift in mindset from doing to getting others to do. Becoming a leader also requires the ability to think more broad scope than what a front line employee is used to doing. To think more globally, answering for others, looking at organizational consequences and being an invested party to the company is sometimes a hard thing to teach.
To teach engagement, a leader nearly needs to force the role of the supervisor. Below are three keys to getting engagement:
1 – Ask questions. Ask frequently and in-depth. In the beginning stages of developing other leaders, there is a lot of leg work and extra effort you, as the organizational leader must put in. Ensuring that items are being followed-up on and asking what the follow-through plan is an essential step in creating engagement. The idea is to get the person used to being asked a follow-up and continuing plan questions that they automatically have them in their head as their day is unfolding. As the leader begins to predict your questioning, you can start to decrease the frequency in which you ask questions.
2 – Create interaction opportunities. Find reasons for you and the new leader to interact. This can be weekly briefings over coffee to see what news they have to bring or even a daily staff meeting. Again, you are opening a line of communication. An opportunity for you to ask questions as well as them to sell their people and ideas to you.
3 – Give ownership. As often as you can, let the world see their thoughts. Let them be the owner of a solution. You are building their confidence. When an employee is confident, they will often take the proverbial ball and run with it. Let them be the leader that they need to be by empowering them at every step of the way.