Developing Grit as a personality trait

23 Feb 2016

Developing ‘Grit’ as a personality trait to be successful

Here’s some food for thought: Talent is over rated. ‘Grit’ is all that matters.

Every second person I meet has a recurring problem. How do I stay motivated when I am bored? How do I bounce back from failure? I know I can but I lose focus and interest soon?

The answer is plain perseverance, being relentless about the goal. Some people call this mental toughness. Some people call it grit.

Talent has no role here. You can be a genius but without grit, you will not reach your potential.

I once applied for jobs in IBM and Infosys. I didn’t make it on both places. What I remember clearly is that at both these companies, I had to fill out laborious forms, getting into the details of my complete academic performance, starting from primary school. At the time I wondered what my form six scores had to do with my current job. Later I realized these companies were asking for primary school scores because they were not just interested in talent but in consistent performance over decades. They were looking for mental toughness. They were looking for grit.

Talent can be sporadic. But grit is enduring.

Talented employees can feature sparks of brilliance every now and then and sink into oblivion when confronting a setback.

But people with grit see things through and are unfazed by obstacles, even failure.

And consistency is a sign of grit.

One can measure talent through IQ scores or emotional intelligence through EQ scores. But how does one measure grit?

Besides consistency, is there any other measure to capture this elusive but critical variable?

The following emotional intelligence variables may reveal a person’s grit.

1. Patience upon confronting difficult questions and situations

2. Resisting judgment in favour of understanding a new or bewildering situation

3. Strong coping mechanisms to handle mood fluctuations and depression

4. Any goal or activity that the person has been involved in for a significant period of time – exercise, writing, gardening, etc.

5. Less talkativeness, more action

Research indicates that intelligence accounts for only 30% of your achievement. What makes a bigger, more enduring impact is grit.

That reveals an interesting point for all of us.

High talent and low grit is useless.

But medium talent and strong grit can take you very far, keep you in the race long after everyone else has dropped off.

We have no control over our genetic inheritance. But we can recognize a deficiency in grit and create strategies on how to improve it – just like how we can increase confidence or emotional sensitivity.

Do you remember your friend who was talented but never got anywhere, or a friend who was very intelligent, but squandered himself? These are failures of grit, not of talent.

Read any success story and you see that the defining trait is mental toughness and perseverance.

How does one develop mental toughness? What does it look like?

Mentally tough people have the following qualities:

  • They are consistent. They do not miss a workout, or a practice session ever.
  • They are clear about their goals. They don’t let temporary setbacks or criticism come in the way of their work.
  • They are passionate about their long term goals.
  • They stick to their daily schedule though they are not motivated.
  • They work like a pro, not an amateur.

Do you want to be mentally tough? Start following these steps:

1. Pick a goal

2. Find out what is not helping you achieve this goal – it will be a habit

3. Focus on an anti-habit, a conscious reversal of behaviour to neutralize the habit. For example, if you are not writing a book because you are lazy, dedicate thirty minutes to writing every day, whether you have time or not, motivation or not. 

4. Irrespective of setbacks, keep writing.

5. Stay the course for 21 days.

If you manage to do this, you would have taken the first step towards developing more grit.

And that alone is the difference between winners and losers.

When the going gets tough, the weak find easier ways to manage things and the tough stick to the tough decisions because they are focused and know that’s where the reward lies.

About the Author:

Sandhya Reddy is a leadership & transformation coach based in Bangalore, India. She is the Founder and Principal Coach at Chapter Two Coaching, a coaching consultancy that enables everyone from CEOs to work-from-home parents to achieve their goals by replacing self-imposed limitations with enabling stories.

Many of us in our thirties experience a disquieting realization: what brought us to middle-management may not take us to senior-management. This is true. To chart a new career path, one needs to think and do things differently. This is where Sandhya can help. She is a coach. Life coaching, executive coaching, business coaching, personality development, leadership coaching… they are all part of her forte. Her Executive coaching programs helps tomorrow’s leaders set new goals, make new plans to achieve those goals, get that elusive promotion through a blend of knowledge, action and image-building, enhance influence among the leadership team, be more productive, get more out of one’s team, and be known in the company as an indispensable performer and future leader.





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