If Grit Is the Key to “Success,” What Is the Key to Grit? (Part III)


By: Martin Grunburg

So, we left Part II  wondering what are the positive habits (thought and action) that constitute GRIT?

After some research, reverse engineering and a bit of collaboration, we’ve come to the conclusion that there are at least 10 positive habits of thought and action associated with the formation of your GRITTY character.

When these habits are refined and combined in tandem, they help to reinforce an over-arching GROWTH MINDSET (see image above) — the understanding that your current status isn’t static and that improvement is an ongoing endeavor and constant learning process.

Sometimes people hear the word grit and attempt to boil it down to “resilience.”

Resilience, defined as:
1 :  the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
.  (That’s good!) and,
2 :  an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

Upon further review, though, all the aforementioned heroes — the great “successes” who were identified in the prior post — when deconstructed, reveal far more than just resilience.  (Please feel free to test this criteria against your own heroes.)

In fact, there were so many other characteristics that helped to formulate a GRITTY character that we thought it might be helpful to illustrate those using The Grit Habit Pyramid. Inspired, of course by the late, great Coach John Wooden and his “Success Pyramid.

So let’s take it from the bottom and work our way up through the various critical habits that make up the Growth Mindset and a gritty character.

Every gritty character had a vision, an ideal outcome and/or a goal to pursue; a direction to aim for. While they may have missed the target and/or ended up elsewhere, there was a direction to compel effort.

Any such vision, target or goal implies simply by its nature a belief and hopefulness that it’s attainable.

While probably not the first trait to be developed, nor the strongest, ultimately patience proved itself to be a requirement. Even Michelangelo once attributed his genius to “eternal patience.”

Coupled here because it takes courage to press on, to move forward … it takes courage to work hard often against the odds, obstacles and “facts.” We are inspired by those who defy the odds, and that typically takes hard work and courage.

Any and all great effort produces one thing for certain: mistakes (sometimes known as failures). An epic example of this is the invention of the “POST IT note.” In 1968, a scientist at 3M in the United States, Dr. Spencer Silver, was attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive. Instead he accidentally created a “low-tack,” reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive. (more) WIKIPieda

Returning to the POST-IT Note example: That “failure” becomes a success when, “In 1974 a colleague who had attended one of Silver’s seminars, Art Fry, came up with the idea of using the adhesive to anchor his bookmark in his hymnbook.” That’s creativity in action!

With his eyes fixed upon the ultimate goal, Thomas Edison remained persistent and resolute, committed to developing a refined incandescent light bulb despite all the “experts” and the “proof” at the time that suggested he wouldn’t be able to do it.  After thousands of “failures,” it was his tireless persistence that ultimately paid off. “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” ~Abraham Lincoln

Adaptability. Flexibility. Persistence in the long-run is ultimately futile without the willingness and understanding of how to adapt and evolve. Whether Darwin said it or not, the essence of idea can be found in this powerful statement: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.”

“Baby (I said to my wife), how would you describe mental toughness?” She replied, “The ability to put up with your husband.” ; ) She’s very witty.

Mental toughness is the mentality that no matter the obstacle or even how you feel about it — and despite all the facts presented to you — you WILL find a way to go over, under or through it!

Mental toughness is also about having a SHORT MEMORY; it’s about refocusing your attention to the present and forgetting any recent mistakes or failures. The greatest competitive athletes are known for their mental toughness because they have the ability to shake off their mistakes right away.

Given that, here’s another way to think of grit when it comes to mental toughness. View it as an acronym: G. R. I. T.

Good. Riddence. IT‘s over.
“OOps, I dropped that touchdown catch, I’m over it. I’ll get the next one. Bring it on! Next!”

Reflect! This actually brings us back full circle. What have our results produced after all this time and effort? Should we set up a new ideal, goal or objective? Do we need to adjust and reset our vision?

The ability to collect and reflect upon our results and data will help us to understand if we’re getting closer or moving further away from our goals.

Beginner’s Mind

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few” ― Shunryu Suzuki

It’s always fun to notice trends in productivity or psychology emerge that ultimately (if you follow the trail long enough) reinforce ancient wisdom. To be fair, The Habit Factor is a perfect example, which is why I share the Confucius quote on the cover.

So, at its essence the idea of “The Growth Mindset” actually dates back centuries and it’s something Zen Buddhist monks have taught for ages,  The Beginner’s Mind.

There you have it, the 10 essential positive habits that make up the Growth mindset and the GRIT characteristic.