How do develop more “grit”?
“Grit” is supposedly “passion + purpose,” best defined by Angela Duckworth’s wonderful book “Grit.” The only thing obvious to any practitioner in change that Duckworth missed was “people skills.” Still, supporting the most common sense ever taught in personal development – be passionate and keep working hard and smart – with actual science is a step forward.
At a practical level, people ask me how to build grit, so here’s four simple ideas that complement the basics of grit research:
1. Discover what you hunger for.
2. Prime enthusiasm each morning so you’re passionate.
3. Block time to work diligently on practicing or doing your work.
4. Get a support team to help you sustain the journey.
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How do you develop more grit?
If you haven’t heard lately that grit is supposed to be the secret to all of success in life. We will talk about that in a moment but it’s a good conversation to have today about how do you develop the ability to have grit so you succeed over the long term?
If you haven’t heard, Angela Duckworth wrote a book called Grit and her formula was very simple. If you have lots of passion and you persevere chasing that passion over a long time, you will have success. Now of course, a little more complicated than that and that’s why she wrote a book on a couple of hundred pages long and a fantastic book. I highly recommend to you, especially, if you’re brand new to personal development.
If you are not new to personal development or to science, you will not be all that surprised by the findings which is basically the ideas of knowing what you want and working really hard towards it over a really long time is a big part of that formula. But there is a lot of misunderstandings too.
In my own perspective, grit is not enough to have success because grit is something that you are being something that you are doing but I also think that beyond just grit you have to have a lot of influence with people. The world’s most successful people that I’ve met are phenomenal in their level of social intelligence and their ability to influence others to support them in their cause or dream. If they couldn’t communicate well and influence others to support them or believe in them or buy from them, then they wouldn’t succeed at levels they did. So, grit usually doesn’t take into account the concepts of influence so I would say it’s not the end all be all. But it is a very important concept that we all need to develop.
Again, Angela Duckworth’s research basically says that grit is passion and perseverance. If you studied my work for a long time, you’ve heard me just use the phrase or the term—Tenacity. It’s about knowing what you want and going for it. You know? Having that hunger inside and matching it with hard work over a long term to continuously improve, to continuously commit, to continuously get better and deliver and serve.
But let me share with you today four big ideas that might help you develop a little bit more of this fancy stuff called grit.
Number one: Get clarity. If grit begins with passion, you need to know what you’re interested in and more importantly what you love. And you need to be clear about what you want now. One of the major reasons a lot of people don’t feel successful is that they might not know exactly what they are really wanting and working towards that each day.
They don’t feel like they’re engaged in meaningful endeavors so the passion isn’t there. And because the passion isn’t there, the stick-to-it ness isn’t there either and so they’re not hanging on to what’s important to them. They’re not sticking with something.
And so, let me ask you this: What do you really want now? You’ve been through enough. You’ve been through many years of your life. You’ve fought and you struggled and I bet you’ve given up some things and you’ve stuck to some things but what do you want now because now maybe, the kids are gone. They’re out of the house and off to college.
Or maybe, now you’ve been laid off or you’ve got a new job opportunity or you started your own business or you’re about to scale to that next level, what do you want now? What do you want for this next phase of your life? Chapter 2, Stage 2, Phase 2; whatever you call it.
You got to have some kind of level of clarity about what you want because that clarity is that ambition, that goal, that dream, that desire, that thing that becomes a passion because you have that deep commitment and attachment to moving towards something. So (1) figure out what you want now and I invite you to do this in all areas of your life.
- What do you want in your health now?
- What do you want in your relationships now?
- What do you want for your career and your contributions now?
- What are your real dreams now?
Number two big idea is to prime enthusiasm each day. I believe the master emotion of all life is enthusiasm. If you are enthusiastic about something, you are engaged with it. If you are enthusiastic about something, you feel energized for it. If you are enthusiastic about something, you look forward to waken up tomorrow and go in for it. So, prime that feeling every day.
The way that I do that is every morning in the shower, when I’m getting ready, I think, “What could I be excited about for today? What could I have enthusiasm for today?” And if I can’t come up with anything off the top of my head or by looking at my schedule, I create it. I say, “Okay, what could I do today that would be fun and make me look forward to the day.”
- Maybe, it’s prank a friend.
- Maybe, it’s do something good for somebody.
- Maybe, it’s something I’m going to do that I just really enjoyed it.
Won’t be, I won’t spend a lot of time during the day but I’m going to give myself thirty minutes doing a passion small little project I’m interested in. Whatever it is, prime enthusiasm because if you have that feeling of enthusiasm that’s what’s going to keep you passionate over the long term. And please listen, you need to prime your enthusiasms every day.
See, a lot of people are very passionate people but they’re not living passionately because every day they’re not engaging with what they want. You know, they set the big goal at New Year’s but then February and April rolls around, they forgotten about it. But the reason they were so excited in January; at the New Year, why is everyone excited?
They’re priming enthusiasm. They’re looking at their goals. They’re having an emotional connection and commitment to that and that excites them for the year. So, what you need to do is look at your goals every day. What you need to do is every day write the things down and important to it. Get excited about doing that, implementing that, experiencing it and go for it.
Number three: Most important in my belief for grit is the concept of block time. If you studied High Performance Academy with us over the last decade or so, you know this is central to everything I teach. Block time. If you don’t schedule time for practice, schedule time for training, schedule time to implement, schedule time to get your work done, you don’t get it done.
And now, you’re just pulled in at all these different areas so now you’re just reacting to the world all the time. Reaction, reaction, reaction; distraction, distraction, distraction. And now, you don’t have any grit to stick to something because you don’t stick to that which is not scheduled. So, if it’s not scheduled, you don’t stick to it. Right?
It just, it becomes something you’re so passionate about for a week or two but then, the world comes back in with its requests and its obligations, your responsibilities and suddenly, the very thing that you were so passionate and enthusiastic about, it goes away.
See, the world’s highest level of performers that I’m blessed to work with. Olympians, fortune 50 CEOs, billionaires, people who have a real track record of long term success, they worked at something every single day. I mean, it’s just part of their repertoire. It was a routine, a ritual, something that was scheduled. Every day they were working towards it. It doesn’t mean they didn’t have days off I guess I should say.
But they had it as part of a consistent part of their life and it was scheduled. There was a block of time on their calendar. It was like world highest level of athletes as a swimmer. It’s like swim practice here, here, here, here, here, here, here. It’s constant. It never went away. They had grit because it was scheduled. If it’s not scheduled, it becomes a passing interest. When it is scheduled, it becomes a clear commitment. So, block down the time.
If you don’t have, if I show up at your house and we pulled up your calendar and we looked at it, and nowhere in your calendar are any of your passions, nowhere in your calendar are your goals, your implementation plans, what you want to create then what you’re doing is just reacting, just following the whim of the world and over a period of time, you will lose that passion and genuine desire because passion is something, you got to be on top of it. It’s like use it or lose it kind of thing. So, please block time to work on things that you really care about.
And then, the last piece that I think is missing in a lot of the conversations around grit these days is enlist a team. The highest level of performers I have ever worked with in my life, they are great at structuring a support team. They’ve got people around them to support them in their desires. They’ve got coaches, mentors, trainers, supportive parents, an amazing team supporting them.
And it wasn’t like they were lucky to be born into that family. Real people with real success habits not just conceptually, not just some from psychological study; the people I work with on the ground in real life, you know what they do? They are influencers.
As I talked about at the top of this conversation, they are amazingly talented at influencing other people:
- To believe in them,
- To invest in them,
- To follow them,
- To train them,
- To coach them,
- To support them along the journey.
They’re not just showing up as the singular brilliant superstar genius. That’s what we all like to believe that these people are so lucky. That successful people are just these lone wolves who are geniuses. The reality is environment matters. And you have to set up a positive environment around you to enable you to pursue your passions, to enable you to persist when it gets hard so that people can pick you up when you fall down.
You become more resilient the better social support you set up around you and guess what? You can’t do that unless you become somebody who is sharing your true thoughts, feelings, desires and dreams with other people.
- You need to speak your truth.
- You need to ask for help.
- You need to enlist other people around you.
- You need to prime their enthusiasm to support you.
Because without a support team around you, you’re always going to plateau. It’s just like, if you ever had a personal trainer at the gym, right? You thought you could only go so far and you are like, “I’m done” and they’re like, “Give me 5 more” and you’re like, “Okay” and you do it. That’s life too for the long haul and that’s why you need that as a success habit—enlist a team.