I’ve been away from blogging for a while and that is for good reason. In the beginning of the year, I accepted the opportunity to join an innovative healthcare start-up. Before I switched jobs, I made sure that I spent several months preparing my clinical practice for my absence as well as spending some quality time with my family.
For now, I can’t really expand on what the startup is doing, but I can say that it was an opportunity that I could not pass up. However, it meant temporarily living away from my family for 4 days out of the week. It meant that my husband was going to have to take over many of my “mommy” responsibilities and routines. It meant a lot of new changes for the entire family.
I’m 3+ months into the new job and the family has adjusted. My husband decided to quit his full-time job to provide some element of consistency for the kiddos. He has done an amazing job with managing the household, and I’m lucky to have him as a partner and a best friend. This makes living away from my family a little easier. Many people have been impressed that we are all doing so well given the circumstance. And as I look back at many other life challenges we’ve faced, I don’t recall a time that either my husband or myself felt doomed or defeated. I truly believe that grit has a lot to do with it.
Grit isn’t something most people talk about when it comes to success because it feels intangible and as though there is no formula to follow to get grittier. Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth has studied the idea of grit and has come to believe that despite any outward advantages someone may have when pursuing their goals, often times the deciding factor is grit over mental or natural ability. Her work indicates that there are greater forces at play in people who rise and achieve at greater levels.
What is grit? Grit is the ability to stick with things when the going gets tough. It is the glue that keeps you together when you want to take the easy way out or give up. Grit insists that you can and you will make it through. Grit sees a way when all hope seems lost.
Why does grit matter? Whether you are suffering from a break up, a bankruptcy, a tough spot in parenting, workplace dissatisfaction, or a health issue, you can get through it. Even when the unthinkable happens. Developing grit will enable you to weather the storm and persevere. As the world becomes faster, more competitive, and sometimes more hostile, you must stay focused and able to adapt quickly. Developing grit as a character trait elevates your coping skills, increases your self-awareness, and gives you the edge that you need to achieve in all areas of life including family, health, and career.
Let’s look at the ways grit matters in your personal life:
- Increased communication skills – Digging deeper in a relationship requires you to learn to listen and share your thoughts and feelings in healthier ways. Grittier people develop excellent communication skills, share openly and honestly about their needs, and foster meaningful relationships as a result.
- Extending kindness and grace – One of the by-products of having grit is the willingness to extended grace and forgive. People with high levels of grit see the world from a wide view point and learn to extend patience, gratitude, and kindness, even when it is not deserved. Grit gives us the ability to withstand tougher people and tougher situations thereby creating a wider tolerance. Ultimately this enhances relationships because there is time to foster growth and change, even with the most difficult people.
- Becoming unaffected by the little things – Have a conversation with someone who has grit and you will notice something interesting; they usually don’t sweat the small things. People who have mastered letting things go tend to be un-phased by the first world problems that offend others. Grit-filled people are able to live and let live; they rarely attach judgements to other people’s motives.
- Increased loyalty – In a day and age when 50% of marriages end in divorce and 75% of second and subsequent marriages fail, people with grit develop a loyalty that overcomes the odds. People with grit don’t run away when the honeymoon is clearly over; they roll up their sleeves and find a way to stoke the fires to get past the issues at hand.
How will grit matter in your professional life?
Whether you are line staff, in management, or an entrepreneur, having grit is going to set you apart from the herd. Being able to withstand criticism, get creative, and solve problems that others can’t or won’t solve will catapult you to new heights, leaving the others back on the ground to watch in amazement.
Here’s how having grit matters in your professional life:
- Increase ability to work smart, not hard – The grittiest people know that outcomes are not tied to time, they are tied to effort. It isn’t about how much time you put into a project; the key is to work smart. Grit discovers ways to increase productivity, identify key concepts, and discover missing aspects that others overlook. A prime example of this would be Timothy Ferris and his block-busting best-seller The Four Hour Work Week.
- Increased know, like, and trust factor – Let’s be honest; people who get stuff done have the respect they are due. Being a dependable leader that can say “yes” to any challenge is going to rise to the top. Fortune favors the bold is a Latin proverb reminding us that the spoils go to the ones who take risks, do more, and stand out. This is definitely a product of grit!
- More stamina and problem-solving skills – Projects oftentimes require early mornings, late nights, juggling family, and multiple pressures. An entrepreneur breaking from side-hustle to full-time independence is going to have to endure long hours to accomplish their goals and may have to work two jobs at once. Grit develops the stamina it takes to commit to the long-term gain while suffering the short-term pain. Taking risks and failing results in learning valuable lessons that create excellent problem-solving skills.
Keep in mind, developing grit isn’t easy, but it also isn’t impossible. Adding an extra skill set to your tool chest is a great way to increase your personal growth and personal satisfaction in all areas of your life. After you develop a grittier perspective you will move through life with an ease that others envy. Is there a direct path to grit? Likely not, but there are certainly opportunities all around to develop more grit in your life.
Here are some tips to increase your grit:
- Become antifragile – Gritty people are not delicate. Gritty people don’t expect a participation trophy; they respond with strength when they must endure something they don’t care for. Grit development comes from realizing that all people will face things they don’t want and don’t understand. Instead of reactionary responses, they focus on what needs to happen in the moment to withstand and move through.
- Have a growth mindset – One of the hallmark skills that grittier people exhibit is a growth mindset; being open to new ways of thinking and behaving, being open to constructive criticism and hearing the word “No” are part of their toolbox. Equally important is a willingness to stand up for something that matters. Grit-based thinking doesn’t champion every cause or theory that comes along. Grit develops discernment and chooses wisely. Growing and expanding your mind brings the wisdom and grit that creates discernment. This discernment works in tandem with your focus and actions, reducing the chatter that distraction from what really matters.
- Learn to adapt – In this life, we are guaranteed trouble. Survivors learn to adapt. Grit is the tool to adapt to unpleasant things. Grit is what brings a man lost in the mountains the courage to eat bugs or forage for shelter and water until he is found. Grit is what gives a child living in extreme poverty and abuse the focus to study hard and leave the situation when graduation day comes. Grit is what gets the soldier through the battle, the injury, and the trauma.
Call to action: Think about a challenging situation in your past. Did grit help you find personal growth from the experience? How can you increase your grit?