10 Ways To Develop Grit
Many factors go into success: hard work, determination, and a strong work ethic will take a person far, but it takes grit to truly achieve success. Grit is most aptly described as the possession of a strong drive and passion for one’s long term goals. Grit involves more than just working hard. It requires drive, stamina and passion for one’s work. Professor of psychology, Angela Duckworth, first discovered the importance of grit when observing her seventh graders. She noticed that the students who excelled shared certain characteristics, such as passion and drive. Duckworth quit her job, and began studying the character traits of successful individuals across industries. While her research is still ongoing, she observed grit in the majority of those individuals, and was able to link it to their rise to the top.
Other individuals have added to this field of study, too, with Stanford’s Catharine Cox finding that grit is an even better indicator of success than intelligence. Knowledge, they found, can only get a person so far. It’s the passion and the drive to do something with that knowledge that lead to success. People who are gritty don’t let repeated failures stand in the way of their passion. Instead, they learn from their mistakes and continuously improve throughout their lives.
The good news is grit can be acquired. Through her research, Duckworth was able to prove that grit isn’t necessarily an intrinsic quality; it is a skill that can be learned by just about anyone. Here are ten ways to develop grit.
Developing any new skill involves constant practice, until the skill becomes second nature. Grit is no different. In order to develop grit, individuals need to first identify any areas of weakness and then put in the hard work needed to improve them. Researchers call this type of practice “diligent practice,” where a person works very hard over a long period of time on their weaknesses, pointing out to themselves where they went wrong and identifying areas of improvement. It’s important to deliberately practice grit on a regular basis. Not only will it help being gritty become second nature, it will also help you improve other areas of your life as well.
Deliberate practice isn’t as easy as it sounds, and can be a challenging skill to develop in and of itself. However, it is well worth putting the time and effort in acquiring this skill. It is essential to the development of grit, and will spill over to help improve other areas of your life as well. Anders Ericsson has spoken at great length about the concept of deliberate practice and how essential it is to self improvement. Ericsson found that many people confuse mere repetition with actual practice. Repetition, he explains will not help a person improve or acquire any skill. In order to improve and continuously practice a skill in away that will actually help a person improve they need to challenge themselves. When practicing, it’s advisable to push yourself to a point where success isn’t guaranteed, and where you need to continuously strive for improvement.
9View Setbacks And Failures As Learning Opportunities
Gritty people are not easily discouraged. When studying the presence of grit in people across industries, Duckworth found that the most successful individuals, or the ones with the most grit, reacted differently to failure than others. Gritty people anticipate failure, and view it as an essential part of the process. The ability to see a failure and examine it with a critical eye aimed at overcoming the obstacle is what helps people find ways to continuously improve.
This is a hard skill to acquire, and like everything else on this list, may require a lot of deliberate practice. However, just like grit, it can be picked up. The first step is to reframe your past mistakes and failures as learning opportunities. Putting this more balanced spin on your past will help you take a more objective and balanced view of the future. In turn, this will help you remain focused and passionate about your ultimate goal, rather than easily discouraged by past mistakes.
It’s important to note that you should never beat yourself up for having negative or discouraging thoughts. It’s what you do with those thoughts that matters. Acknowledge those negative thoughts, but then ask yourself where the learning opportunity is. How can those thoughts spark some type of lesson or idea for improvement? Mistakes are always essential to learning any skill – they can help us identify which areas are in need of immediate improvement. Gritty people may find themselves momentarily discouraged by making mistakes, but will also quickly figure out ways to prevent the mistake from occurring again.
8Believe In Yourself
As cheesy as it sounds, believing in yourself is a crucial part of developing grit. Before you can succeed, you need to believe that your ultimate goal is achievable. Gritty people truly believe that they have what it takes within them to learn, to grow, to evolve, and to achieve the type of success they dream about. This helps them view setbacks with a more balanced perspective. Accepting and even anticipating massive failures and set backs, but also knowing that you can succeed despite them, is part of what it takes to develop grit. On the opposite side of the coin, people without grit may find failures simply too discouraging, believing that if they are incapable of success now, they will never be in the future.
Duckworth recommends that people who are having trouble believing in the power of their own success try to learn more about the “growth-mindset theory” of human development. Essentially, the growth-mindset theory is that humans are constantly changing and evolving, and that as a species we are capable of continuously acquiring and applying knowledge. The theory says that the people we are today may not be the same person we were in the past, or the same person we will be in the future, because of this constant personal evolution. Once an individual is able to adapt this type of mindset, believing that he or she has the ability to learn and grow becomes significantly easier.
Developing grit involves being able to first own your mistakes, and then be able to rise above them. Having a strong sense of confidence in your own capabilities makes accepting mistakes and learning how to fix them much easier. It involves much less personal introspection, and more analytical thinking.
7Surround Yourself With Grit
Surround yourself with gritty people and you will find it much easier to develop grit yourself. Humans tend to learn behaviors from their peer group, even if they aren’t always trying to do so. On a certain biological level, people do want to fit in and conform to their peer group. If your peer group consists primarily of gritty people, you will pick up certain gritty behaviors in order to continue fitting in. If one particular characteristic dominates any given peer group, chances are it will rub off on other members.
Having gritty people as part of your social circle can also help you find mentors and teachers when needed, and can help you find individuals to approach for advice. It can also help you develop a healthy sense of confidence in your own abilities. Having members of your peer groups compliment certain skills or give validation in certain areas can help improve your ability to believe in yourself.
Befriending other individuals who already have a level of grit you admire can also help you identify other qualities of a gritty person that you would like to incorporate into your own personality. Observing a gritty person’s passion in a social setting, for example, can give you an idea of where to start looking for your own, if you’ve yet to find it. In other cases, finding out how a gritty person was able to apply their interests and passions to their working life can inspire you to find ways to do the same.
6Learn How To Handle Powerful Emotions
Failure, setbacks, mistakes, and other challenges will inevitably arise at various points throughout your life, even if you aren’t actively trying to develop grit. When you are learning new skills in an attempt to become grittier, there may be more failures experienced and more mistakes made. The important thing is to keep trying; to keep pushing yourself to work through those setbacks.
For many people, enduring these kinds of challenges can stir up some pretty powerful emotions, ones that may even seem overwhelming at time. In order to develop grit, it’s important to learn how to keep those powerful emotions in check. After all, while the occasional frustrated outburst may be acceptable, continuously expressing powerfully negative emotions will have the opposite effect. In fact, developing a sense of grit is even harder when you are unable to handle the severe disappointment and upset feelings that come with failure.
If you find that you are having issues managing those powerful feelings, try and take a step back from the situation. Acknowledge that you are feeling something powerful and uncomfortable, and do your best to maintain control over them. This is both for the benefit of others around you, and for your own development of a gritty attitude. A bad day doesn’t necessarily mean the week is ruined, and a gritty person will be able to acknowledge the bad day, and then figure out ways to ensure the next one will be better. When you stay in power of your emotions, you can maintain your hope and optimism for the future.
5Stop Keeping Score
This is an incredibly important piece of advice that can easily be applied throughout your life, but is especially important when you are trying to develop grit. Keeping score, regardless of who with or what it is about, will always hold you back. When it comes to interpersonal relationships, keeping score with others eventually leads to a tit-for-tat attitude, which is ultimately unproductive. People with grit understand that sometimes, one has to put more into a relationship than one gets out of it. If the balance is untenable, it’s best to cut ties.
It’s also important to stop keeping score when it comes to the effort and work you are putting into reaching your goal. At first, you may find you are putting a significantly larger amount of work into achieving success than you are seeing coming back. The important lesson is to be patient; hard work and perseverance do pay off. Understanding when it is important to delay gratification is an important aspect of grit. Studies have found that those who are able to put off short term gratification for a bigger long term gain do better in life, and are happier overall.
If letting go of resentment, towards others or your project, is difficult, try a short mental exercise. Take a few moments and imagine your life in the next ten days, the next ten months, and then the next ten years. In almost every case, the resentment or score keeping you have in mind won’t be there. Instead, you’ll focus on your goal, and the steps you’ll have taken to reach it. Whenever you are tempted to keep score with others, or against yourself, remember what is truly important to you in the long run.
4Learn How To Manage Your Time
Gritty people have to learn how to effectively manage their time, almost out of necessity. There is a lot that goes into developing grit, and it can be a time consuming skill to acquire. Individuals who have grit also tend to be highly motivated, and incredibly busy. As you develop the skills necessary to acquire grit, it’s a good idea to learn how to effectively manage your time. One of the biggest obstacles to developing grit is stress. Stress is often caused by the feeling that one does not have any control of the time that he or she has available to complete any given task. It can be the enemy of developing grit, as it can be discouraging and incredibly demotivating.
There are many ways to study effective time management, and it’s important to find a way that works best for you. Some people work better with an electronic calendar that has their daily schedule loosely set out. Others need something more tactile. Whichever camp you fall in, be sure to learn how to best manage your time.
Not only will you need enough time to practice your skills, you will also need to manage it effectively enough to help the greatest number of people possible. Researchers suggest scheduling time to focus on necessary action plans and planning for several interruptions throughout your day so you can stay on schedule. It’s also a good idea to start your day by examining your schedule, and figuring out which items on your task list are priorities, and which can wait.
Be hopeful that things will work out, even when you seem to be struggling. Avoid blind optimism, which can actually be counter productive. Instead, practice balanced thinking, and focus your optimism on ways you can improve things as they are. It isn’t enough to simply hope for the best, have the optimism you need to believe that you can improve things so they become the best.
This isn’t to downplay the importance of hope in developing grit. Researchers found that hope is an incredibly powerful cognitive motivator. People who don’t have hope don’t take the same risks and chances that are necessary in order to ultimately succeed. Gritty people dare to hope for the best, but do so in a way that forces them to examine how they can change what needs to be changed in order to succeed.
Practicing optimism is relatively easy. It requires a growth mindset, and the ability to practice balanced self talk. Often, our minds engage in negative self talk, especially surrounding mistakes or failures. When you catch yourself engaging in this type of behavior, it’s advisable to accept those negative thoughts but then to replace them with something a bit more balanced. For example, rather than thinking “I may never succeed” a gritty person who has practiced optimism will say “I acknowledge that this attempt was a failure, and now I am going to figure out what exactly went wrong”. The second approach is more solution orientated as well, which can help boost your own optimism.
2Determine Your True Motivator
Another key element to the development of grit is to figure out what exactly it is that motivates you to succeed. In other words, why is it exactly that you want to achieve your ultimate goal? When an individual is able to do something with his or her life that he or she finds to be meaningful, they are able to develop grit much better than someone who is interested in a topic, but doesn’t find it to have an intrinsic meaning.
For example, someone who is motivated to help the less fortunate will have more grit to put into that cause than another. As Duckworth put it, “interest without purpose is nearly impossible to sustain for a lifetime”. Finding something that you are interested in but that also helps imbue you with a sense of purpose is an important step to developing grit. If you find that your goal is relevant to your own interests, and can fulfill a society need, you will be more driven to achieve that goal.
Figuring out what truly motivates you can be somewhat difficult, especially if it isn’t a question you are used to examining. Start by thinking about your current occupation. Do you call it a job, a career, or a calling? People who are interested in their work will often say they have a career, while those who find that their work gives them purpose and a sense of drive will say it is a calling. If you are labeling your current position as a job or even just a career, it’s time to reconsider what truly drives you.
1Find Your Passion
While each of the prior tips will help develop grit, having a true passion for your ultimate goal is what binds it all together. People who are truly passionate about their goals tend to achieve them, whereas those who aren’t passionate about their projects will find it much harder to succeed. Finding a project or topic you are fascinated with can be a lot more challenging than it seems. If you are struggling to identify a particular passion, many researchers suggest thinking back to childhood. As you reflect on hobbies or activities that made you happy at the time, think about how you can incorporate them into your adult life. For example, a person who is skilled with puzzles may make an excellent engineer.
Even if this particular exercise doesn’t help unlock your hidden passion, it can help you narrow the field down. Sometimes you will need to try a few different things before you find something that speaks to you. Once you have found it, however, try finding a mentor, teacher, or instructor who can help you fully understand your passion. A skilled teacher will not only teach you more about your passion, but can help you understand why it speaks to you – further helping you develop a strong sense of grit.
People who are passionate about a topic will inevitably spend more time thinking about it. This leads to being better able to problem solve, and to develop creative solutions to any existing obstacles between you and your end goal. When a person is passionate about a topic, developing grit naturally follows.
Developing a sense of grit is crucial to reaching your goals, whether they be personal goals or career aspirations. It isn’t all that difficult, but does require a lot of hard work and can take time. Grit involves constant practice and personal development and evolution. Individuals who want more out of life, and who are driven to succeed, tend to perform better and report greater satisfaction.
Don’t get discouraged if you do feel stuck in your current position, whether it be due to financial or personal reasons. Keep in mind that grit is a skill that can be learned, and it’s a skill that can be applied to a number of different situations in your life. It’s important to note that you can develop grit even while working at a job or in a career that you initially don’t find to be motivating. Simply think about how the work you do may help other people. Researchers have found that being helpful to other people is one of the biggest motivators. Reframing your current position from one that didn’t seem as though it had purpose to one that can help push you to continuously excel can help you develop grit even at that job.
Ultimately, grit is about pushing yourself, motivating yourself, and being able to see past your own mistakes into a bigger and better future. Developing grit can be life changing, as it can give you the strength, confidence, and abilities you need to get more out of life.