If you are reading about business these days, you have more than likely read about Angela Duckworth, Ph.D., who continues to study the value of “grit”: what it is, who has it, and what you can do to cultivate it for yourself or encourage it in your work groups. Duckworth’s recent book, Grit, and TED talk on the subject have sparked a large conversation about how to predict success over the long term.
Grit is the quality of sticking with your long-term goals even when it is difficult, even when you fail. Travis Bradberry describes grit thusly in “11 Signs You Have the Grit to Succeed” on Entrepreneur.com: “It’s the passion, perseverance, and stamina that we must channel in order to stick with our dreams until they become a reality.”
The good news from Duckworth’s study is what many of us already know: you don’t have to be the smartest, innately talented, or even physically fit to be someone with grit. All you need to grit and bear it for success is a clear understanding of your goal (to learn a math problem, to complete Westpoint Academy, to dominate the widget market, to create a blockbuster movie) and to work relentlessly and with passion to get to that goal. Tim Askew, writing at Inc.com, quotes John Ortberg who winnows Duckworth’s years of study to: “Over time, grit is what separates fruitful lives from aimlessness.”
There is nothing new to this and there is no shortcut to learning how to be gritty. But it can help you determine how to best build the team that will help you gain long-term and lasting success: don’t look for the sprinters. Look for the metaphoric marathon runners: those who have passionately followed a route that may look oddly lonely but has yielded results because of stick-to-it-iveness.