5 steps for cultivating grit

When I first learned about grit, I immediately started to research how I can develop it for myself. We first talked more inept about it in the Grit 101 post. Psychologists point to this personality trait as a major indicator for success. An even better one than smarts or talent. Reading this is freeing and daunting at the same time. Ambitions are not limited by IQ or talent. Everyone has the potential for growth. However, that growth is dependent on your behavior. How can we adopt this behavior for ourselves? Here are five ways that will help you.

1. Passion

Angela Duckworth defines grit as “passion and perseverance for long term goals”. In this step we will focus on the first part - passion. If the achievements you’re pursuing don’t make you excited, you won’t be motivated to work hard towards them. It will be hard for you to demonstrate a strong work ethic. Think about what you really want out of life. Are you pursuing the goals that are in line with that? If you want to be grittier first find the right goals. What skills would you like to master? What type of a career do you want? But don’t just sit around and think about it. Experiment. Try different things. See what fits you the best and apply your focus in that direction. To sum it up, find your passion and make it happen (cue the Flashdance music)

2. Perseverance

This is the second part of the definition. It refers to your ability to stick to your long term goals and consistently work towards them. Goal journeys have a steep curve. You have to be able to deal with failures and obstacles. In the process of learning and working, it is not enough to focus on your strengths, but also on your weaknesses. Actively look for your weak spots and embrace the challenges they bring. What are you working on at the moment? In which areas do you need to improve?

3. Responding to challenges

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, challenges should be welcomed and treated as learning experiences. Easier said than done, right? Challenges can represent different things. They can be obstacles, mistakes or even failures. Up until now I believed that mistakes are a signal for lack of skill. If I make one or if solving a problem does not come easily to me, it's because I don’t have what it takes to accomplish my goal. Gritty people flip this view on it’s head. Mistakes signal the areas where we need improving. Obstacles induce growth. How else are we gonna achieve excellence?

Observe yourself when you make a mistake or face a difficult obstacle. Take note of your initial responses, both mentally and physically. Do you get sad or angry? Maybe you tune out and lose focus. Do you get the desire to quit? In some cases you might point fingers and blame others. Analyze your initial responses and be aware when they occur.

4. The big picture

If you think that your goals are small and trivial, soon you will lose your motivation and quit.

One way to build grit is to see your work from a bigger perspective. Ask yourself these questions: “In what way does your work help others?” and “ How can your work contribute to making a positive change, even if that change is really small?”.

5. Positive thinking (the non-cheesy kind)

I’m not talking about idle wishing that things will eventually improve. This is not about believing that somehow everything will be fine in the end. Gritty positive thinking is trusting your own ability to figure things out. It’s your own efforts that can create positive outcomes.

Do you think that becoming grittier will be beneficial for you? Will you try to shift your mindset in this direction?