Everyone has had moments where they doubted their ability to succeed. These moments may have come up in university during a tough course or even in more personal situations, like at the beginning of a new relationship. Entrepreneurs especially, both experienced and not, have an intimate knowledge of self-doubt. All of this, of course, is totally normal. This is in fact, where grit in business comes in.
We can thank Dr. Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, for bringing “grit” as an idea to the forefront. Dr. Duckworth, also a MacArthur “Genius” Grant winner, released Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance in 2016. The book refreshed the conversation about just how much persistence is worth in business and in life. Spoiler: it’s worth a lot.
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What Is Grit?
We can begin by defining the word grit. What is grit? Duckworth defines it as “[a combination] of passion and perseverance for achieving long-term goals.” Passion is strong enthusiasm for a particular thing or idea, or as Duckworth explains it, falling in love with something and staying in love. Perseverance, on the other hand, involves “living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint”. Basically, grit is the ability to set a goal and stick to it in the long-term.
Duckworth’s main thesis is that grit is what differentiates people who succeed from those who don’t. In her book, she supports this thesis by citing studies she did on army cadets who had to get through intense physical training and Ivy league undergraduates who had to manage a challenging workload. Her findings indicated that those with more grit (measured with her “Grit Scale”) were more likely to get through the intense training or perform excellently well in their schoolwork. Smarts, exam scores, good looks, IQ, and talent weren’t as important.
The great news is that grit is a skill like any other; it can be learned! Whether or not you’re currently working toward something, like starting a new business, scaling up your business output or introducing a new service/product to your clientele, grit plays in to determine how likely you are to succeed.
Therefore, in this article, we’ll dig deeper into why grit in business and beyond is important and offer tips on how to become “grittier” in daily life.
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Why Is Grit So Important?
At first, it might not be easy to see how grit is more important than talent. However, as Duckworth found in her work, successful people are much more likely to focus on the journey than the final result. This is a quality of grit.
To be talented in a field means that you learn the skills needed for that field quickly. But it is not the most important factor for success. Instead, those who are more likely to succeed are able to put in consistent effort and endure failure. Successful people commit to their goals even if the task they have to accomplish is boring or tedious.
Grit in business is so important because it keeps you going even when you’re tired or discouraged. And as we’ve seen so far that is what determines success.
How To Increase Your Grit In Business
1. Figure Out What Grit Means In Your Life
What does “grit” mean for you? Does it mean completing a certain number of tasks every day? Or does it mean exercising every morning?
When it comes to entrepreneurship, does grit mean adding a new person to your professional network every week? Grit is about mental toughness, focusing on the journey as much as the outcome. In whatever way this translates to your life, recognise it and keep it in mind.
2. Find Your Purpose
After figuring out what grit in business means for you, you want to think about your purpose. Your purpose is any goal or objective to which you can see yourself committing in the long-term. Ideally, this is something you are passionate about.
Having a sense of purpose and understanding the reasons for your goals will keep your candle burning. Even when you’re not getting the results you want.
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3. Practice Deliberately
Practice involves doing something over and over again until you master it. Deliberate practice, however, goes deeper. This sort of practice requires that you modify your approach as you get feedback from others, as well as your own personal experience. This is both an exercise of mastery and awareness.
To improve your ability to practice deliberately, start small. If you import and sell cosmetics, and your goal is to introduce an unusual make-up kit to the market, you would have to figure out a novel marketing strategy. Here, starting small means purchasing a minimal quantity of the product and attempting to sell to a subset of your target market, and seeing what works. Deliberate practice also means accepting failure as just another practice session.
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4. Remain Hopeful
Keeping hope alive in the face of failure is no easy feat. However, hope (combined with optimism) can be the fuel you need to keep pushing until your day of success.
Failure is inevitable. But hope helps us get back up after. Hope provides us with the mental clarity not to dwell on our mistakes but to learn from them. To become more hopeful, practice imagining the best-case scenario instead of the worst. This won’t be easy at first. Our brains have a natural negative bias and are hard-wired for pessimism. However, optimism and hope allow us to keep our eyes on the prize day after day.
Grit is not just about reacting to extreme circumstances. Instead, as I mentioned earlier, you can start small. Practice being hopeful in the midst of little drawbacks in your daily life. Examples of little drawbacks could be difficulty finding a supplier for a new product or difficulty writing a bid for a new contract.
Mental toughness is a muscle, and by practicing hope, you will find that this muscle is getting stronger every day.
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5. Build Strong Habits
Sometimes, everything comes down to habit because motivation is rarely ever enough. Grit in business and otherwise is about building daily patterns and habits that keep you consistent with minimal effort. In fact, healthy habits allow you to overcome distractions and tough situations without you having to think about it.
Based on your entrepreneurial objectives, define a set of habits that will help you get there. Set aside a month during which all your time will be directed toward building these habits. Dedication will become a bit more effortless!
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6. Surround Yourself With Gritty People
It goes without saying that the people around you influence your mindset the most. Grit is about building persistence and positive energy. And of course, to build this energy, you need to surround yourself with people who possess it themselves.
Seek friends and mentors who are consistent in their goals and who are willing to share their tips for success. Sometimes, when you are too disenchanted to go on, a familiar figure can be the encouragement you need.
With these steps, you are well on your way to becoming the entrepreneur you’ve always wanted to be. Grit is about passion, dedication, and persistence. Also, becoming gritty takes time.
Remember to be kind to yourself and to give yourself pats on the back as you make progress.
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What did you think of our study on “grit”? How has being persistent helped you accomplish something difficult? Let us know in the comments below!
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