Do you ever wish you could predict who will succeed in their sport and make it to the ranks of college, national, or even professional levels?
What if the same factors that predicted success in sport also predicted success in learning, job performance, and all of life’s challenges and adverse conditions?
As it turns out, they can!
What Is Grit?
There’s a growing body of research called “grit.” According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, grit is defined as “firmness of mind or spirit : unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.”
Researcher Angela Duckworth has taken the lead on studying grit, and tweaked this definition to be “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”
We’ve all heard stories of the extremely talented athlete who just didn’t fulfill their potential. Conversely, there’s the oft-told story of the moderately talented athlete who excelled beyond expectations.
Duckworth has begun the work of identifying the characteristics of grit, which helps to explain (at least in part) both of these phenomena. Here’s Ms. Duckworth’s short list of characteristics, used to identify grit both on and off the field:
The ability to overcome fear of failure, which often takes the form of “perfectionism” in youth and collegiate student athletes. Perfectionism runs rampant in youth sport and chips away at grit. With courage, you can overcome these downward spiral into perfectionism and refocus your energy on actual improvement.
Defined as the act of being careful and painstakingly meticulous, Duckworth found this to be a strong predictor of grit and therefore job proficiency and academic success. With his precise work ethic, Steph Curry is a prime example of conscientiousness in sport.
3. Long-Term Goals and Endurance
Following through with long-term goals help to give us a vision. In other words, it’s ‘why’ we should be gritty.
Duckworth writes, “… achievement is the product of talent and effort, the latter a function of the intensity, direction, and duration of one’s exertions towards a long-term goal.” Effort is the controllable part of that equation which makes it the most valuable area to focus our energy.
This is defined as optimism, confidence, and creativity.
Gritty people believe that “everything will be alright in the end, and if it is not alright, it is not the end.” Mastery is a long-term journey that is guaranteed to have significant ups and downs. Bouncing back quickly from adversity keeps you in the game, which improves your chances of accomplishing your long-term goals.
5. Excellence vs. Perfection
What’s the difference?
As mentioned above, striving to be perfect is unrealistic and inflexible. It is fueled by anxiety and sets the athlete up to be easily frustrated.
On the other hand, excellence is a mindset. Those who strive for excellence embrace failure, which helps the athlete stay on course for long-term fulfillment. Ask or read about any professional athlete and chances are you will hear a story of overcoming adversity, the challenges they faced, and how they have learned to manage themselves under pressure over the years. In other words, how they became and stayed gritty.
Having true grit can get you far in life. Whether it’s on the field, in school, or in the work force, the ability to focus your energies on improving the above characteristics will help you reach levels you never thought possible.