Grit: The Stubborn Refusal to Quit

Until about a year ago, I only associated the word grit to small, loose particles of stone or sand. Today, a very different perspective, I find it being a common theme of discussion in the workplace.

I was recently at a gathering with colleagues and someone asked, “What are some hot topics in the workplace?” Immediately, one colleague assertively responded with “grit!” After a few moments of brief discussion, I posed the question to the group, “What exactly is grit and how do you know if you have it?” At that point, the group was pondering a response and everyone who thought grit was such a “business hot topic” was suddenly scrounging for responses.

For the past few months, I’ve been asking people about grit.  I’ve read up on the topic and am currently tackling the 300-page book Angela Duckworth wrote on the topic.

So what exactly is grit? Well, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, in the context of behavior, grit is defined as, “firmness of character; indomitable spirit.” A 2011 article in Fast Company discussed how grit was the top predictor of success. The article defined grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goal’s and stated that “grit is the number one indicator of high performance.” Experts mentioned in this article listed the following attributes as the building blocks of grit:

-A clear goal

-Determination despite others’ doubts

-Self-confidence about figuring it out

-Persistence despite fear

-A code of ethics to live by

-A capacity for human connection and collaboration

-A loyalty that never sacrifices connections along the way

-An inner strength to help propel you to your goal

Forbes published an article in 2013 discussing the 5 characteristics of grit. How many do you have?

Courage – The more grit you have, the more courage you have to fail. People with high grit understand there are valuable lessons in failure and defeat and the vulnerability of perseverance is requisite for high achievement.

Three years ago, I was struggling in my job from the perspective of feeling unfulfilled. I knew I needed a change and ultimately wanted to change industries. As nervous as I was about the unknown, I had the courage to leave (without a job lined-up) and pursue my passion in Leadership Development training. Without courage, and essentially grit,  I would still be in an unfulfilling position. Fortunately, I was highly motivated and have been successful in pursuing my passion the last three years. This is why courage, which Forbes says is one of the five characteristics of grit, is an absolute necessity in the workplace.

Conscientiousness – The more careful, painstaking and meticulous you are, the more grit you have. A self-controlled person who never steps out of line and is committed to the focus of a long-term outcome is more likely to be successful over the person who rushes straight towards a goal and doesn’t put in the “practice time.” In the long run, the person with more grit will be more successful because of the struggles to get to the goal.

During my three year job transition, I was meticulous with the contacts I was making, the work I was submitting, the time I was taking pursuing different opportunities. I realized there was no clear road to my final destination, however, every path I took was part of the journey.

Long-term goals and endurance: follow through – In order to have extraordinary success, a long-term commitment must be established. Setting long-term goals are a key factor for those with grit – practice must have purpose. Establishing long-term goals provides context and framework which produces drive, sustainability, passion, courage and grit.

My long-term goal was to find a job with an organization that allowed and supported me to pursue my passion of training and development and being a full-time facilitator. Understandably, in the training and development world, most organizations do not hire full-time facilitators - rather training specialists that are able to project manage, develop content, deliver content and follow-up on trainings. I was determined on developing my skill sets to be recognized and hired as a full-time facilitator and created a long-term goal to not settle for anything less. During the last three years, I had a few different positions that supported me both financially and developmentally to achieve my long-term goal. In February 2017, I secured my current position as a full time Leadership Development facilitator and appreciate every opportunity I have that supports my passion of training and development.

Resilience – Having optimism, creativity, and confidence is the combination to resilience. This “hardness” as social scientists refer to it as, is grit. Gritty people believe that everything will work out in the end, and if it hasn’t worked out alright yet, it is not the end.

I’ve always considered myself a highly optimistic and confident person. However, leaving a secure job was one of the hardest, yet easiest decisions in my career. It was truly life changing and I knew my optimistic side would prevail. Everything has worked out, three years later, and even the rough paths leading up to present day have made me a more creative and confident woman.

Excellence vs. Perfection – Gritty people don’t seek perfection – they seek excellence. Excellence is all about attitude and fulfillment of purpose. Excellence allows for imperfections and disappointment but it is the ones with the most grit that are constantly seeking, striving, and finding.

Excellence is the one of my key values today. I am passionate about my work and inspiring others to change behaviors that make them happier, healthier and more successful. I am far from perfect, however, knowing that I aspire to have excellence in all that I do fulfills my overall pursuit, passion and purpose.

Angela Duckworth says, “Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”  Grit is the strength of character or resolve to visualize your dreams and work relentlessly to achieve it. Grit is essential in pushing you out of challenges and tough times. Grit is the special blend of persistence and passion.

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Elizabeth Pugel

Traveler. Communicator. Auntie. East Side Girl.

I’m just a girl, standing in front of CLE, asking the city to love her.

Elizabeth “Purple” Pugel is a native and proud Clevelander. She enjoys conversation over a great cup of coffee or a steaming pot of tea. She is passionate about the way people communicate and believes kindness is the key to every relationship she encounters. A human. Being.

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Elizabeth, This is a great post. I, too, have had many experiences that confirm your points about grit. So glad we crossed paths a few years ago!

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