Greatness of Grit

I was listening to a podcast this morning on the way into work; and they were talking about the ways in which one can develop grit among young children. I found it to be an interesting topic to kick off my morning with especially since I have been spending some time reflecting on society’s generally accepted tactic of appeasing all of those around us at all times, regardless of what they do, say, accomplish or don’t. I like Grit. I think I have Grit. I also like to think I surround myself with those that have Grit, but I’ve never defined grit in technical terms before.

Grit is the innate ability to problem solve, adapt to change quickly, and persevere to achieve an ultimate long term goal.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? How would you measure if someone actually has grit or not? Would you judge by their prior actions? Potentially, but do you also believe individuals can change, grow and learn from their previous experiences? If so, then grit could be a portable skill set; one that is learned and no longer in line with the definition above. Would you create an artificial scenario to test one’s grit? Sure, if you know where their limits are and can design a test that would inherently push them. What I spent the rest of my train ride thinking about was:

  1. How I’ve defined grit and how else it could be interpreted?
  2. How do you test for grit?
  3. Most importantly, how can you develop grit if you weren’t born with it?

After spending some time thinking it through, I decided I was going to stick with my definition of grit except for the “innate” part because there must be a way to develop grit. People who have gone through incredibly difficult and trying situations are known to have developed, by design, a thicker skin and eventually grit. I am in the midst of going through something personally trying – probably harder than anything I’ve ever done and ever will do,at least I can hope – and it has reinforced for me that there is no time to waste or failure worth fearing. I believe this is my first lesson in real- life- grit- development.

Grit is a personality characteristic, and unstoppable attribute; it is something though that remains dormant until it has to be activated. Grit is what happens when you kick into high gear when the CEO has asked you to complete a 2-day analysis by COB or you find yourself lost in a foreign city not speaking the language or when you walk into an event hall with wrinkled linens. Grit is what you do when the solutions you learned in business school don’t apply. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to test for grit, but one way I image would work is by asking anyone who supposedly has the trait what they would do in the midst of a seemingly routine problem. Does the individual:

  • A – Solve the immediate problem?
  • B- Identify the root cause of the problem?
  • C- Propose a solution?

… If they do any of the above, chances are they would be a good task rabbit. If they address all three, then you my friend have  the greatness of grit on your side.

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