I’m sure we all know someone who has succeeded at their chosen profession and yet when we knew them earlier in life we didn’t think they were the most skilled or talented person in the bunch. Apparently the personality trait called grit can sometimes triumph over the more familiar traits of talent, intelligence, and abilities. Angela Duckworth, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, defines Grit as ‘sticking with things over the very long term until you master them’. Your grit capability shows up when you experience a setback and rather than accept the result the world has dealt you, you persevere and inquire why that it occurred and how you can learn from the situation and try again.
Researchers of grit are not sure how to teach grittiness or what makes some people have more of it. One hypothesis is that if an individual knows or recognizes that change is possible then that could be a predictor of the possession of grit – so individuals that don't dwell on the failure or think that they are stuck with the skills they have are likely to posess grit to help move them forward.
Another insight on gritty individuals is that they have stamina for achieving over the long haul knowing the time frame for success is probably a marathon and not a quick sprint to a new skill or way of life.
How can we translate this understanding of grit to our work situations? When you're experiencing a setback and you’re on the brink to blame the world around you, or assume it’s your limitations that have kept you
from moving forward – think again, this is a moment to test your grittiness. For every negative statement your brain is telling you think of an optimistic learning question that can challenge you to learn and move forwards. Change is possible; we are all capable of learning and trying out what we learn, to follow up with a new situation and a new learning opportunity.
If you find yourself setback in someway and catch yourself thinking any of the blue statements below, try asking the question instead and finding one small action that edges you in the optimistic learning direction – a marathon is run one step at a time.
I don’t have all the skills – what do I need to learn?
I didn’t do so well today – why was that and what do I need to differently?
I don’t know anyone – who is one person I could introduce myself to?
I don’t speak up – who can I speak with to let them know what I’m thinking?
I can’t risk it – what’s the worst that could happen if I did risk it?
I’m not liked – how can I get objective feedback on my performance?
I can’t sell my idea – what other ways can I climb this mountain?
I am behind – what can I drop, delegate, or focus on to catch up and move ahead?
Want to be more inspired on the subject of Grit? Then check out Angela Duckworth’s TED talk: Talk