Grit In Business
Kobi Simmat explores the concept of grit, and how you can out-perform almost anyone with the application of a few simple principles.
If I’m sure about one thing in the dynamic world of business, it’s that you don’t necessarily have to be the smartest person in the room to achieve an outcome; you just need to be prepared to put in the hard work. This is, in essence, the bedrock underlying the concept of grit, whereby perseverance and commitment to a set of goals. Angela Duckworth, one of the leading psychologists in this space says that grit is the “perseverance and passion for long-term goals” that can lead an individual to get the result they want, in spite of mitigating circumstances that might have otherwise restricted someone’s ability to perform.
Today, I’m going to be referencing a Ted Talk presented by Angela Duckworth herself, which you can access here. Her methodology exploring the concept have taken her across a number of contexts, with the results of her team’s efforts shining a very interesting light on the results of grit in business, education and in people’s personal lives.
“In education,” she explains, “the one thing we know how to measure best is IQ. But what if doing well in school and in life depends on much more than your ability to learn quickly and easily?” Her research team went to West Point Military Academy to see which cadets would survive their military training, and who would drop out. They also visited the National Spelling Bee, and tried to predict the winners of the competition, as well as teachers working in tough conditions to see who would not only last the year, but who would be the most effective at improving learning outcomes for their students. She also teamed up with private companies and asked who would keep their jobs and make the most money. “In all those very different contexts, one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success and it wasn’t social intelligence, good looks, physical health and it wasn’t IQ… it was grit.”
“Grit is living life like it’s a marathon- not a sprint.”
“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina, grit is sticking with your future day in and day out - not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality,” she says.
It’s one of those things that’s difficult to study, and even more difficult to teach. As Duckworth explains, “to me the most shocking thing about grit is how little we know, and how little science knows about building it. Every day parents and teachers ask me “how do I build grit in kids?”, the honest answer is- I don’t know. What I do know is that talent doesn’t make you gritty. Our data shows very clearly that there are many talented individuals who simply do not follow through on their commitments. In our data, grit is usually unrelated or even inversely related to measures of talent,” she said.
Researchers agree that one of the best methods to manifest some of the basics when it comes to grit is to embody the growth mindset, which was developed by Carol Dweck at Stanford University. Growth mindset is most simply understood as a belief that the ability to learn is not fixed, and it can change with effort. Dweck’s research has shown that when kids learn about the brain’s ability to change and grow in relation to a challenge it is presented with, they’re much more likely to continue their efforts in spite of the fact they’ve failed. Why? Because they don’t believe that failure is a permanent condition, and that challenges can be overcome when there is a growth mindset implicit in the brain’s behaviour.
Putting this into practice in the context of my personal experience with doing business, I’ve noticed that some people are more likely to persevere through tough circumstances than others, and more often than not, this rising to the challenge has been met with success in the long-term.
Remember- the road to success is paved with failures that can slow down the speed of progress, but if you persevere and put the right fuel in the tank, you’ll be sure to reach your final destination.