Follow your passion and never give up
To have passion and perseverance in something that interests you; this is what it means to have grit. The theory behind the use of “grit” in day to day life and in your endeavors comes from Angela Duckworth’s book grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. In this context, grit refers to the characteristic of determination no matter what obstacles may appear in your path to success, the key here being passion and perseverance above all else. Everyone and anyone is capable of having or developing grit, it is about what we do and who we are.
Putting in the Work
Duckworth notes that we as society tend to hold far too much value and attention toward talent. Not only should talent be given less of a spotlight in order to develop a more productive mindset, it is also often attributed to success that comes from other factors, especially grit.
When someone, for example a runner, wins a large competition, they are often praised for their talent, whereas they in fact put in hours upon hours of practice that involved constantly pushing themselves in order to achieve the feat. In essence, the process is ignored in favor of putting talent on a pedestal. Since grit comes partly from perseverance, this misses a crucial point.
The long process of practice isn’t enough in and of itself though, since it requires focus. Think of focused practice in terms of having deliberate steps versus unfocused practice which is more about going with the flow. For example, you might practice a song you’ve mastered on the violin everyday for a month without actually improving your skills. In order to improve, you need to set goals for yourself with each practice, you need to push yourself to try songs that are new and that create new challenges for you. Through hard work and perseverance, your skills will grow and obstacles that once seemed impossible to overcome will become simple. It’s all about putting in the time and not giving up, especially when things get hard.
Purpose & Passion
On the other side of the coin of building “grit” lies passion, which is strongly based in purpose. Passion isn’t denoted solely by only doing what you love, in fact, it can often arise out of a task or career choice that starts off as being the practical choice. Many successful and passionate professionals started off working the job as a necessity but found passion along the way. The key in finding purpose, and with it passion, is not to give up. Find something you like and stick with it. If you keep jumping from job to job you will quickly find your struggle without much long-term purpose. On the other hand, if you keep going at it, your purpose, passion, and grit will all grow.
Finally, when things go wrong – and things always will go wrong – the importance lies in what you do once you recover. You might get knocked down then get up and give up; this isn’t the right way to go. You need to get up and take another swing at things. Giving up only comes to mind when we feel that we can’t control anything, that’s why it is critical to retain an optimistic outlook on things. Whereas pessimists often see failures as a lack of ability or skill and allow otherwise minor things to be blown out of proportion, optimists focus on the specifics and keep reworking their strategies for future attempts. Following this, it should come as no surprise that optimists have more grit. They have it in them to stay strong from start to finish – and in the end, that’s what it’s all about.