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Where Grit Really Comes From

I just spent 13 hours in a car.

Because of weather, yesterday’s flight was canceled. Rescheduling was impossible. My first thought was I can go home and take a nap.


I’d been talking with my client. It didn’t look like I was going to make it.

Finally, a voice in my head said, “You have a responsibility.” I sent a text to my client, “If the worst happens, I’ll drive down.” (800 miles.)

I thought of some people I could hire to drive me. But first I called my wife and asked if she wanted to drive to Georgia. She said yes.

We arrived about midnight last night.

Where grit really comes from:

We learn grit from others.

My dad had grit. He was a dairy farmer who did what had to be done, without complaining. He didn’t tell me to have grit. He lived it. There are many others. Family members. Coaches and teachers. My wife.


People watch how you respond to difficulty and adversity. Don’t expect them to step up for you, if you step down when things get tough.

Grit is contagious. So is quitting.

10 grit tips*:

  1. Create teams of doers not talkers. Sluggards love talking about what they’re going to do.
  2. Protect gains and take new ground at the same time.
  3. Judge yourself and teammates on track record, not academic record.
  4. Do hard stuff first.
  5. Confront tough issues. Ask awkward questions.
  6. Sweat small stuff. Concentrate on fundamentals. Coach Wooden taught college basketball players how to put their socks on.
  7. Follow through. Don’t tell me what you start. Tell me what you finish.
  8. Choose simple over dramatic.
  9. Reject haste.
  10. Keep learning. Intellectual contentment leads to feeling superior and entitled.

What grit tips might you add?

*Grit tips are inspired by my conversation with the publisher of Forbes Magazine Rich Karlgaard and his book “The Soft Edge.”


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