What kind of an impact would increasing your level of mental toughness, aka grit, have on your life?
Do you think that would give you the edge you’ve been looking for?
With just a little bit more grit, mental toughness and perseverance you could…
Knowing that being more mentally tough could benefit you is one thing, but actually developing it is another!
So, the question is, how can you develop more grit?
How can you become more mentally tough?
And how can you learn to persevere when faced with challenges on your path to greatness?
Most people (me included at times) think that those who have achieved a certain level of success are smarter, more talented, lucky…the list goes on.
So, I thought I would really dig deep and figure this out for myself by asking myself 1 simple, yet powerful question…
Is it actually possible to reach the level of success we desire, despite not being as talented/smart/lucky than those around us?
Luckily the answer is yes we can reach the level of success we desire despite not being as talented or smart as we think we need to be!
Think of grit/mental toughness as your hidden superpower!
Not only can developing grit allow you to succeed, but it can also actually be an advantage that allows you to thrive—even more than those who are smarter and more talented!
And in this article, I dissect everything I’ve discovered about the importance and power of grit!
I give you the research, tools, best practices, real-life examples, resources and a ton more to help you increase your level of grit so ultimately you can live your best life—in whatever way that looks like for you!
So let’s jump in.
In this article I will cover the official definition of grit; however, I like to think of grit as a combination of Guts, Resiliency, Intention and Tenacity.
And while this acronym for GRIT certainly makes it easier to understand the essence of what it means to have grit, let’s dive a bit deeper into the research and official definition of grit.
Our exploration begins by looking at the unusual connection between National Spelling Bee competitors and US Military Cadets!
What on earth could National Spelling Bee competitors and US Military Cadets possibly have in common?
As it turns out, quite a bit!
It was this commonality that allowed 13-year-old Akshay Buddiga to immediately jump back to his feet after fainting on stage during the National Spelling Bee in June 2004.
Not only did he jump back to his feet, but he was also able to spell one of the toughest words of the competition as soon as he got back up!
Interestingly enough, both the Spelling Bee Champs and the most successful Cadets at West Point Military Academy share the characteristic of displaying grit, aka mental toughness.
And it was grit, not IQ or talent, that better predicted their success!
It wasn’t always the smartest students the won the National Spelling Bee, or the strongest candidates that made it through West Point Academy, it was the grittiest—the ones with more mental toughness.
Angela Duckworth, Psychologist and Professor of Psychology, has spent her career studying grit and its impact on an individual’s success.
She defines grit as, “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”
Even deeper in her research she says that…
“Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress.
The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course.”
Well, as it turns out, it is the power of grit, not talent or intelligence, that creates a common bond between the most successful competitors in the National Spelling Bee, and US Military Cadets at West Point Military Academy.
Through her research she discovered that…
The question is…is grit something we’re born with or is it something we can develop?
Luckily, we can strengthen and cultivate grit! But like anything worth developing, it takes some work….
Grit isn’t about you generating a big dose of motivation and courage to get you through a situation. It is about facing each challenge with the understanding and belief that you will get through it.
Working through the challenge is where grit is strengthened.
And when faced with challenges, your habits are the default behaviour that you will fall back on. If you can cultivate daily habits of success that you stick to consistently, you’ll be able to overcome challenges and remain more mentally strong when it matters most.
And thankfully research is showing us that you can cultivate grit
The graphic below shares 4 research-backed ways to develop grit.
Today we live in an age of immediate gratification and so many people are looking for an easy fix or solution to everything.
Taking a look online you can see countless claims of overnight success in all areas of life. From business, to health, to relationships and everything in between.
And while it is possible to achieve the results you’re seeking in a short amount of time; this is an attitude that only sets you up for disappointment.
This is where developing a burning desire to strengthen your level of grit will set you up for success.
Grit takes many forms and your situation and challenges will require you to dig deep in a way that serves you and your situation.
Taking a look at the inspiring examples below really paints a picture of the different challenges these amazing individuals had to overcome and persevere through.
The one constant was that they all displayed grit. It was their mental toughness that allowed them to persevere when they felt like stopping.
Learning about grit and applying it are two different things. By no means am I saying it is easy—it is hard work. But as Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
Get inspired by these historical examples of grit in real life.
Woohoo! You made it to the end!
Now comes the fun part—consciously cultivating grit and treating it like a new superpower you discovered!
My best advice? Don’t overcomplicate this.
The truth is, we’ve been talking about strengthening and developing a character strength, not how to tie your shoes. So while there are tangible steps you can take to develop grit, the results may be subtle so please be patient.
As I started to learn about grit it really made me think of the challenges I’ve faced over the years and when I displayed grit to overcome them.
It also made me realize the countless times where I could have displayed grit but chose not to. Maybe out of fear, lack of belief in myself, or the list of other countless reasons.
Either way, we learn from our past and can only look forward.
My hope is this article allows you to live a more inspired life.
To make things super easy to focus on, I’ve created The Ultimate Guide for Developing Mental Toughness.
Download it here.
This guide compiles the important parts from this article and a few additional resources and tools that are game-changers!
In the guide, you’ll find a link to Psychologist and grit Rock Star Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk on Grit. You will also find a link to the “Grit Scale” assessment. This will give you an idea of just how gritty you are.
Spoiler alert, I received 3.6/5 on the Grit Scale so I’ve still got some work to do!
Remember, knowledge isn’t power—it is potential power. We only turn it into power when we use it.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I did writing it.
I love creating this type of content because I learn and grow throughout the process as well!
Please leave a comment below and let me know how developing and strengthening grit will allow you to live a more inspired life!