What if the smartest people got it all wrong and the secret of Success is Failure. And if so, wouldn’t that make Grit the holy grail of our times?
OK, let’s not panic…
I will concede that Grit, unlike its more empowering cousins Confidence and Ambition are nowhere as intoxicating and may I add… sexy?
As a matter of fact, Grit reeks of old blood, sweat and tears. Tedious? Yes, possibly. But let’s try to keep an open mind.
And here is why:
Grit has been officially touted as our very potent modern-day wonder drug. The bad news is you can’t really buy Grit anywhere, you do have to grow it. And there is just no elegant shortcut either. That just makes it so much more desirable.
If you can persevere long enough to make it through the next level, that’s what counts, right? Apparently, it is that one personality trait that runs through blue-blooded successful people. That one l-o-n-g stop – that just about stops you from giving up.
Everyone gets nervous; but not everyone chokes under Pressure. Grit, I believe is the nemesis of Pressure.
There is something debilitating about the concept of choking. It suggests that the reason the players fall apart just before last inning because they care too much.
You see, we really, really want to win, and when we get unravelled by the pressure of the moment, The simple pleasures of the game is no longer fun; the fear of losing is what remains.
Just as Martin Seligman believes that Optimism can be learnt – I too believe Grit can be cultivated.
‘The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault. The optimists, who are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its causes are confined to this one case. The optimists believe defeat is not their fault: Circumstances, bad luck, or other people brought it about. Such people are unfazed by defeat. Confronted by a bad situation, they perceive it as a challenge and try harder.’*
Optimists are spunky by nature, not by whistling happy tunes but by learning a new set of cognitive skills.
Grit, similarly isn’t about ‘swallowing’ what Life has thrown at you but being optimistic about good things you’ve uncovered along the way.
The good news is, if you aren’t particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. If we embrace the knowledge, long enough to let go of our fear and self-imposed insecurities, we can jumpstart the process. And the best thing about Grit? If we practice it often enough, you can be easily be the last man or woman standing.
Gritters are a tenacious lot - but it's no fun doing anything without those fluttery butterflies in your stomach. And don't forget to look back once in a while - just to see how far you've come 😃