What is Grit?
Grit is at the very center of success. It’s the greatest determining factor of achievement and excellence. Of all of the traits you cultivate, grit is the most important, especially for entrepreneurs.
That’s not to say you don’t need creativity, intelligence, organization, and people skills. You do.
However, without determination and drive to move an idea forward in the long term, despite the ups and downs, you’ll ultimately fail. In other words, you need to strive to cultivate all the traits that help you become better, but grit is the most important.
Research on Grit
The most famous researcher of grit is Angela Duckworth. She defines grit as passion and perseverance for long term and meaningful goals. She reminds us that “without grit, talent may become nothing more than unmet potential. It is only with effort that talent becomes a skill that leads to success.”
Therefore, grit encompasses a deep sense of purpose. Without that purpose, there’s no passion, and without passion, there’s no way to move forward. There are five main characteristics of grit as identified in the book 5 Characteristics of Grit–How Many Do You Have?. They are courage, conscientiousness (achievement versus dependability), long-term goals and endurance (follow through), resilience (optimism, confidence, and creativity), and finally, excellence versus perfectionism.
Advice for Everyone
It’s not just entrepreneurs who need grit, it’s everyone. People are constantly giving up on their goals. In every aspect of life, people give up. When things get hard, they lose steam. This applies to marriages, kids, exercise, personal development, and even employment.
Basically every part of human life is touched by grit. A good example is exercise. Most people make a goal at the beginning of each year to get in shape. They decide to go to the gym regularly. And for the first few weeks they often do quite well. But then life gets hard. They don’t feel like going to the gym one day, so they don’t. They lose sight of their goal and fail.
But how about instead of giving in, they didn’t? How about instead of acting on a momentary feeling, they pushed past it? It’s difficult to do, but in order to succeed, you need to logically override the immediate negative emotions and press forward. In other words, you must overrule how you feel at a specific moment in time and power forward.
Advice for Entrepreneurs
For entrepreneurs, grit is more than just a motto, it’s a way of life. Everyone, at some point in their life, has some kind of inspiration about how they can change the world for the better. However, most people pass up the opportunity because following through requires unrelenting time and attention.
This type of time, attention, and unrelenting focus is difficult for most people to sustain long term. It takes a disciplined individual to not only start with passion, but follow through even on the hard days. Most people simply lose steam, become discouraged, and give up. They fail because they don’t have grit.
How to Cultivate Grit
In order to cultivate grit, you must discipline yourself. This means that when you have an inspiration about what you want to do, you need to follow through. And not just for the short term, but for the long term. Even when it feels like you don’t want to continue. You need to keep moving forward to accomplish your goal.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary has perhaps the best definition of grit, which is, “a firmness of mind or spirit: unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.” As long as you have that, no task is too hard. No goal is too great for you to accomplish.