In many ways in this season, our ability to stick with goals, passions, and tasks is crucial. What indicates the difference between a person who gets A’s and the other who gets C's? Or the distinction between the person who finishes a marathon and the one who did not get started? What about the individual who receives the lead role in a play she was vying for and the other who did not? Is it IQ and personal aptitude? Athletic ability? Raw talent? Not necessarily.
We would all remain stunted if we did not persist when mastering a new language, learning to ride a bike, or overcoming anxieties and beliefs that hold us back.
Researcher Angela Duckworth studied the concept of grit and the power it has in serving people to achieve their goals and experience success. According to Duckworth, “Grit is passion and perseverance for achieving long-term and meaningful goals.” It does not require a high IQ, strong athleticism, or even talent. Grit requires persevering against all obstacles to obtain something that is fervently desired.
Duckworth describes grit as, “living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” It means continuing toward the goal day in and day out despite the prevailing circumstances, challenges, or required investments. When we get confronted with complications, we push through and remain persistent despite the discomfort.
Being gritty doesn’t mean not showing pain or pretending everything is O.K. In fact, when you look at healthy and successful and giving people, they are extraordinarily meta-cognitive. They’re able to say things like, ‘Dude, I totally lost my temper this morning.’ That ability to reflect on yourself is signature to grit.
People that cultivate grit generally maintain courage, conscientiousness, perseverance, resilience, and passion. Courage involves overcoming fears. This includes a fear of failure. Grit is practiced in order to grow stronger. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “do something that scares you every day.” Roosevelt was not referring to taking physically harmful risks, but moving past what feels comfortable and challenging oneself even if failure is a possibility.
Duckworth also found that conscientiousness is closely linked to grit. There are two types of conscientious individuals: goal-oriented and dependable. The distinction between them could make a radical difference in the level of overall personal grit. Dependable people are generally more self-controlled while goal-oriented people will do what is necessary to complete the task. Both of these conscientious types can be positive. The goal-oriented person stands a better chance at success because of being more likely to take necessary risks.
You need perseverance if you want to be gritty. It involves continuing with a task even when it is difficult while delaying gratification. People often quit because it was more challenging than anticipated. Giving up seems more likely when the goal is seen as too hard to achieve. Perseverance means that we prioritize long-term goals and future rewards over the short-term pleasures of the present.
Resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” This allows us to get back up and try again when it feels much easier to stay down. Miller (2020) states, “Grit is the engine that moves us toward our goal. Resilience is the oil that keeps the engine moving.” Without the ability to keep moving forward through challenges, long-term goals cannot be achieved.
It is similar to grit.
Resilience can also be grown through practice and a growth mindset. Optimism is a key component. Other factors that contribute include: forgoing negative self-talk, connecting with others, making deliberate decisions, having self-compassion, looking at difficult circumstances in perspective to your lifelong experiences, accepting the need for change, and taking time to reflect on what you have learned about yourself when faced with unfortunate circumstances.
Without passion for a long-term goal, it will be difficult to overcome fears of failure, delay gratification, and get back up again when challenges arise. It can be important to explore passions and interests while creating long- term goals. Volunteering in various capacities is a way to narrow down possible passions. Completing a personality test might be a helpful place to start as well. Everyone discovers true passions at different points, but it is essential to actively pursue interests for self-discovery.
Grit can be a life-changing phenomenon. Goals and dreams are lost without perseverance and passion. Developing grit will bring life to the passion within.