When the going gets tough, the tough get gritty
I have recently been watching an easy to view TV programme called, “How did you get rich?” – in it the interviewer asks a wide variety of successful people how they made it. Whilst they are in different enterprises, there are some common threads. Everyone has a vision, they are excited and energised to develop that vision, they work harder than most others, and they are single minded in their pursuit of their goals. One of the other stand out characteristics is their mental toughness, not letting the naysayers knock them off track.
Angela Duckworth a professor at the University of Pennsylvania has conducted numerous pieces of research on mental toughness or ‘grit’ as she prefers to call it. She’s the author of the book ‘Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance’ and in 2013 was awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Award for her work. Angela and her colleagues have studied military cadets, spelling-bee contestants, students, sales teams, and teachers working in tough urban schools to identify the traits that lead to success. In each of these diverse groups the single most important aspect was the mental toughness of the individual which kept them in the army, the spelling contest, saw them graduate, succeed in sales, or thrive in difficult schools.
This is REALLY good news because we all have the potential to develop mental toughness. Gritty people have a growth mindset – they understand that the ability to learn (and get better) is not fixed and can change with their effort. This way of thinking builds perseverance something you’ll always find in gritty people.
Would you like to develop your mental toughness? The following tips will help.
- Pursue what interests you, this is not a mental exercise, get out there take action and find what you care about. It’s hard to commit to the long haul otherwise.
- Find a role model or mentor to help lead and excite you. You’ll then be more likely to put in the practice that is needed to get really good at what you are doing.
- Practice, practice, practice. Hard work develops skill, work on your weaknesses. Find a way to encourage yourself on the road to mastering the skill. See the failures as necessary and part of the process. They are not a reflection on you. Use supportive self-talk.
- Have a strong purpose. If you are able to attach meaning to what you do you are much more likely to stick at it. Gritty people are dramatically more motivated. With purpose comes passion and a love of what you are doing.
- Have hope. Not wishful thinking, but you are hopeful that things are going to improve or you are going to get better at what you do because ‘you are going to make it happen’.
- And finally…. spend time with gritty people. It’s said that we become the average of the five people we spend most of our time with so choose wisely.
Need more insights into mental toughness? James Clear has written a really excellent blog– read the full piece here http://jamesclear.com/mental-toughness