And for good reason: in it, Duckworth shares that for anyone striving to succeed, the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent, but a soft skill comprised of a unique blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”
Grit is the ability to maintain a long-term focus on a highly important goal. It’s about having the stamina and passion to keep going, even when you get frustrated or feel challenged.
Given the prolonged uncertainty and challenges of navigating a global pandemic, it’s especially relevant and ahead of its time. But even in non-COVID times, it’s easy to get distracted from your goals, stuck in a rut, or paralyzed by fear.
Cultivating your grit is the best way to persevere, and the good news is that Duckworth believes your level of grit is not fixed. Instead, she says it’s aligned with what Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck refers to as a “growth mindset,” or a belief that your abilities are malleable, not fixed, and can be developed through hard work and feedback. Having a growth mindset also means that you believe you can improve and that major challenges and setbacks provide an opportunity to learn.
Those with grit consider themselves lifelong learners and welcome opportunities to better themselves. To help you develop grit in your career, answer these seven questions:
1. What do I want?
To maintain an unwavering focus on your goals, you first have to be able to enunciate them. And when you have clarity on what you want, you can also explain it to others to enlist their help.
2. How can I increase my exposure to new ideas, experiences, and possibilities?
To grow your grit, you must be curious. Those who maintain a growth mindset are open to and seek out the unfamiliar to creatively expand their horizons.
3. How can I help others?
Those who embrace grit understand that it’s not always about them. Instead, they reframe situations to find ways to be of service to others because by doing so, they know they will also thrive.
4. What are my fears?
Fear is a powerful emotion. It often masquerades as procrastination and discomfort, keeping you from making progress and threatening to derail you on your grit journey. To combat this, you need to muster the courage to acknowledge and tackle your hidden fears.
5. What is my intention, and is it aligned with my attention?
You can only develop grit when you create an unshakeable determination to accomplish what you want, also known as your intention. And when you pair this with the focused attention of your time and energy, you’ll up your grit factor.
6. What actions and behaviors serve me well and which do not?
Growing your grit requires a level of self-awareness that means you understand that everything is connected: your actions, behaviors, and results. Having this front of mind means intentionally avoiding or keeping those things that best support your goals.
7. What parts of my environment do I need to change, keep or remove?
With grit, your environment matters. Make sure to surround yourself with people and elements that support your destiny, not just your history. If something or someone no longer serves you, remove them to make room for those that do.
Committing to anything over the long run is extremely difficult. The keys to developing your grit are practice, maintaining the resiliency and optimism to bounce back from failures, and adopting a growth mindset where you believe you can—and therefore, will—get “grittier” over time.
This article is the last in my multi-week series covering the range of soft skills and how to cultivate and apply them to your career. Be sure to check out my earlier articles on empathy, persuasion, connecting with others, listening, communication, creativity, collaboration, adaptability, time management, awareness, curiosity, and problem solving.