Contrary to popular belief, the Number 1 factor for success is not intelligence, it’s not social skills, who you know or what school you went to. According to Dr. Angela Duckworth, its grit and I completely agree with her.
So what is grit?
Grit is perseverance, stamina and resilience.
It’s being able to stay focused on very long-term goals; which is difficult in this age of instantaneous gratification.
Grit is passion – believing in yourself and your dream.
Some people are born with grit – others (myself included) have to work at it.
What’s your passion?
If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing it’s going to be very difficult to stay motivated for the long haul.
Several years ago I opened a yoga studio – not because I was passionate about yoga; I like yoga and I practice it almost daily but it’s not my passion.
My passion is meditation; understanding the brain and the mind.
My thought was that I’ll have this yoga studio and I’ll teach meditation there – the yoga classes will support the meditation class.
Owning a yoga studio was hard work – I had no idea just how hard it would be. I spent so much time managing teachers, schedules, marketing, doing payroll and teaching yoga myself that by time I got to my most favorite hour of the day – to teach meditation – I was exhausted.
I hated it. I was killing myself for a business that I was 90% not passionate about.
After one year, I was out of the yoga business.
Don’t underestimate the power of passion.
If someone had asked me before I opened the studio how passionate I was about yoga, my answer might have given me a clue that I shouldn’t be doing it. Maybe I still would have had to learn the hard way – but I hope you don’t.
It’s a Marathon not a Sprint
Having passion for what you are doing is critical. But it’s not enough.
You’ve got to believe in yourself, in the face of all odds and adversity. To pick yourself up when you fall (quickly). To keep moving forward when it seems there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
This requires perseverance and resilience.
A lack of perseverance could come down to simply being lazy or undisciplined – if that’s you then you’ve got to work on that – those are key ingredients for failure.
It can also be because of fear and doubt; this is what kills most people’s resilience.
The Paralyzing Grip of Fear and Doubt
Everyone experiences fear and doubt from time to time.
Those cunning little thoughts that tell you you’re not good enough, you’ll never be able to do it, everyone else is so much better than you, you should just quit now….
It’s not so much having the thought that’s bad – we all have crazy thoughts from time to time – but we can control whether we believe them.
We can also control what the next thought is. That’s where we have a choice – to continue with this line of thinking or let it go.
If you don’t have control of your mind, then probably these thoughts take over so quickly you don’t even realize there was a moment where you had a choice. You get sucked down the rabbit hole in a nanosecond.
Those fortunate few that naturally have grit don’t get caught up in the stories of how they suck and everyone else is so much better.
I was definitely not born with grit. I used to believe every crazy story I’d tell myself about myself and they never ended with “and everything worked out great.”
When you are caught up IN the story, you can’t tell truth from fiction. Let alone find the power to let the thoughts go. These kinds of thoughts have a powerful energy behind them and if you’re unskilled at dealing with them they will win every time.
If your thoughts are holding you back then you need to come up with strategies for dealing with them.
Working Out for Perseverance and Resilience
Meditation is far and away the best way to increase your grit. It changes your brain to reduce activity in the areas of your brain that are associated with negative thinking, fear and avoidance behavior. While also increasing activity in the areas associated with positive thinking, self-confidence and approach behavior.
I credit any grit I’ve got to this daily practice – I can’t imagine where I’d be without it.
That doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it – there’s always crystals. I just prefer to go with methods that are scientifically proven to work.
So meditation is the fastest way to change the physical structure of your brain but exercise is the fastest way to change your mood.
If I’m feeling a little overwhelmed or unmotivated, I start moving. I’ll jump up and do 50 jumping jacks, go for a power walk around the block, close my door put on some music and dance for a few minutes (yes, if my door was open I’d look crazy – but no one can see me and the boost to my mood is enormous!).
If you weren’t naturally born with grit and you want to change that – then work on improving the qualities that make up grit. You might also want to check out Dr Duckworth’s TED talk on grit – for more inspiration!