Gareth Marshall

Business Athlete: Do you have grit?

Without grit, talent may be nothing more than unmet potential.

So what is grit? To break it down, there are two components: passion and perseverance. Passion is defined as ‘an intense desire or enthusiasm for something.’ and perseverance is defined as ‘persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.’ Therefore just having a passion for something is not enough. In order to succeed, you need to be able to persevere despite facing adversity. This is GRIT.

I believe that grit is a key driver of achievement and success. Being naturally smart and talented is great, but to succeed you need the ability to persevere.

Without grit, talent may be nothing more than unmet potential. It is only with effort that talent becomes a skill that leads to success” (Angela Duckworth, 2016).  

So, how do you develop grit? According to Duckworth, the best way to develop grit is something called “growth mindset.” This is an idea developed at Stanford University by Carol Dweck, and it is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed, that it can change with your effort. Dr. Dweck has shown that when people read and learn about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenge, they’re much more likely to persevere when they fail, because they don’t believe that failure is a permanent condition. Therefore growth mindset is a great way for building grit.

Angela Duckworth summarised this really well:

“There are no shortcuts to excellence. Developing real expertise, figuring out really hard problems, it all takes time – longer than most people imagine. And then, you know, you’ve got to apply those skills and produce goods and services that are valuable to people. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And here’s the really important thing. Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it. It’s doing what you love, but not just falling in love – staying in love.”

I am a strong believer in the fact that you need grit to succeed. The ability to stick with and pursue a goal over a long period is an important indicator of achieving anything worthwhile in life. I addressed this as part of my ‘top 5 athlete-like habits that you need to be successful’- Adopt Athlete-like habits.

Anyone who wants to take charge of their future must have grit. It takes hard-work and resilience to become a successful athlete or be successful in business. There will always be self-doubt. Fear of failure can be stifling. There will always be naysayers. However, you must hold firm in the face of adversity.

Want to understand this more on the subject of grit? Angela Duckworth gave a TED talk on the subject which is well worth a watch:

Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth is the Founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development. She is also the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, faculty co-director of the Penn-Wharton Behavior Change For Good Initiative, and faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics.

Angela has received numerous awards for her contributions to K-12 education, including a Beyond Z Award from the KIPP Foundation. Angela’s TED talk is among the most-viewed of all time. Her first book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, is a #1 New York Times best seller.