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*:
- Create teams of doers not talkers. Sluggards love talking about what they’re going to do.
- Protect gains and take new ground at the same time.
- Judge yourself and teammates on track record, not academic record.
- Do hard stuff first.
- Confront tough issues. Ask awkward questions.
- Sweat small stuff. Concentrate on fundamentals. Coach Wooden taught college basketball players how to put their socks on.
- Follow through. Don’t tell me what you start. Tell me what you finish.
- Choose simple over dramatic.
- Reject haste.
- 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.”
Never quit when the goal is justified.
Thanks Bill. Choose your goals carefully. 🙂
Do hard stuff first. Yes. Do not put off to tomorrow what can possibly put off indefinitely. I have found putting off hard stuff makes it even harder when I must finally address it.
Thanks Pete. It’s funny how when we finally get to the thing we’ve been putting off, it isn’t as bad as we thought!
Love this. I’m fifty-fun years old and I’m still growing in grit in my professional life, learning how to apply some of these principles in just the last six years. One of the reasons I’m dog-determined to possess grit is because of watching people who don’t have it. It’s everything from annoying to heartbreaking. Thank you, Dan.
Thanks D. Every meaningful achievement requires grit. That means it’s pretty hard to matter in this life without it. Best for the journey.
I just turned 80, great frame of mind and healthy – grateful for all and more. Grit? Does this mean the teeth? I still have mine too! Grit takes in everything I believe I am when it comes to handling all the things in life that have a way of presenting – I call it my “series of events”. It’s a matter of getting over, through, around or under them and moving on. It’s overlooking the emotional side of things as best as one can so a decision can be made from the heart to the good of me and all around me. “Tough” doesn’t mean a thing – it’s just an adjective. Wish all negative adjectives were abolished from the English language. What is, is! That’s the beginning and end of it! It takes Grit to just take care of business!
I wonder if “Grit” can be described as thinking “I’m doing this” or “Ok hurdle, get out of the way” instead of what (probably) most people think “I’m maybe doing this later” or “Wow, big hurdle, I’ll go the other way”.
And if so, I start to think about the possibility to prime yourself for thinking you can do it instead of thinking you can’t. Creating a thinking pattern that turns into a habit and that set’s you up for success. Hard work undoubtedly, but maybe possible?
Don’t panic. It alters your ability to focus, blocks creativity, and consumes mental energy.
Thanks Rob. Stress makes smart people dumb. 🙂
Great piece. We are constantly working with leaders and teachers in our school system to focus on a growth mindset and the importance of grit in ourselves and in helping to model that and explicit teaching around this to our students. Again, great post!
Thanks Jay. The connection between a growth mindset and grit is important. I think Dweck and Duckworth both bring that important point out.
Years ago, a counselor suggested that adversity, failures and challenges are just “grist for the mill.” Perhaps we should change that to “grit for the mill!” I learned to have grit from my parents. My mom had polio but learned to drive with special adaptive controls, cooked great meals, and even changed our furniture arrangements by sitting on the floor and dragging pieces (when we were at school and dad was at work!) My dad espoused hard work, education and perseverance. I just completed my master’s degree at age 68 while working 3 jobs.
Amen to that!
Thanks William. Congratulations!! Looks like your mom and dad really rubbed off on you.
Totally agree with judging yourself and teammates on track record NOT academic record. I may not have been the best student, but given opportunities and tasks, I can excel. Just because you’re not academically superior doesn’t mean anything. I want an employee that works hard and cares.
If you haven’t read it, I recommend Grit by Angela Duckworth.
Grit is staying focused on “the thing” especially when stuff is NOT happening as fast or the way you want or need stuff to happen.
Great blog post Dan. A grit tip that I would add is to learn from, rather than apologize for or be defensive about, mistakes and failures.
I found myself saying “Oh Snap! That’s good!” a lot haha!
I love this one! I love leaders that exemplify their expectations. I heard a mentor say this once, “See it. Fix it. Say it”. If you see something that is not excellent, fix it, and say it to a team member so now you have more people looking for the excellence factors.
Joseph had grit! Daniel had grit!
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.”
This is GOLD! Naysayers are watching and waiting for you to fail! Persevere and take the high road while doing it.
“He didn’t tell me to have grit. He lived it.”
Wow, that hits hard. That may very well be the best definition of ‘leadership’ that I’ve come across in recent memory.
Hey Adam. Great seeing you here. I hadn’t thought of it in terms of definition…but you have to model the way if you expect to lead others. 🙂
Grit comes through when we say the ‘hard things’ in a honest and direct manner. It could be called the art of hard work & the attitude of getting something accomplished. I like to think of it as doing something because it’s the right thing to do, even when not easy or convenient.
Grit reminded me this thing that I have to eat during my younger days due to lack of food and I’m glad to know what it takes to live through it and remains in me to visit in times of tough times.
The best Grits must be sufficiently boiled to reach their full potential. Choosing to jump into the active, steaming waters of life gives you the opportunity to become your best and receive the sweet butter of success.