Grit: The X-Factor for success

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For centuries, alchemists searched for the “Philosopher’s Stone”; a magical instrument that could turn lead into gold and they never found it. Every day fools buy lottery tickets hoping to turn “lead into gold”.

Explorers searched the globe for centuries looking for the “fountain of youth” only to never find it. Every day women in department stores spend millions of dollars to cling onto their fleeting youth.

Every night audiences in the hundreds of thousands stay up late into early morning watching infomercials promising “get rich quick schemes”, “get rock hard abs now” and dating programs that promise that the woman of your dreams is “one phone call away”.

We all want success to be easy.

We all want the silver bullet or the magic wand that will make things “easy” and change in an instant.

We all want the secret sauce that will make us an overnight success. These days, it takes 10 years to become an “overnight success”.

Success is never as easy as it looks!

What if we could increase our probability for success by focusing on one certain personality trait?

There have been hundreds of studies on success and scientists have found that it has nothing to do with intelligence, talent, luck, resources, contacts or education. However, studies have proven that there is a specific personality trait called “grit” that is directly correlated to success.

Grit is a psychological trait that indicates a person’s passion for a particular long-term goal. Grit is associated with perseverance, resilience, ambition, need for achievement and tenacity.

To make a long explanation short, the grittier a person is, the harder they will fight to succeed.

People with high levels of Grit are concerned with winning the marathon, not the sprint. They are long-term thinkers that aim to achieve long-term goals and are less concerned with short-term challenges and failures. A person with a high level of Grit will move from failure to failure and keep their eyes on the prize.

To quote Winston Churchill; “success is moving from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm”. Churchill understood Grit and he was able to capture the hearts and minds of the British people in World War 2. Throughout nearly the entire war, Britain was the underdog; suffering defeat after defeat from the Nazis. However, Churchill was able to inspire his people to become gritty, dig in and hold on. In the end, the Nazi war machine ran itself to destruction and the British were able to claim victory by sheer tenacity despite being the underdog for nearly the entire war.

Many of our parents/grandparents who were who were born in 1920’s became extremely gritty due to the fact that at age 10 they were in the great depression, by age 20 they were fighting in a world war. If they were strong enough to survive those two events, they came home, built themselves a house with their bare hands, raised four or more children and worked like a slave until they retired (or died).

The World War 2 generation was a very gritty group of people compared to the baby boomers or the echo boomers. The World War 2 generation understood that:

1)    Life is not easy

2)    Persistence wins

3)    Hard work is required for success

4)    Giving up is not an option

5)    Life is not always fun, but keep going

Today’s young people are not conditioned to be gritty like their grandparents/great-grandparents. Today we live in a world of instant text messaging, facebook, twitter, video games, instant microwave dinners and soccer tournaments where the losers are taken out for ice cream.

Gritty people are able to delay gratification and often, this is the #1 key to success. Unfortunately, we are conditioned today to want instant gratification and many of us forget how tough our grandparents had to be to survive and thrive in the last 90 years.

If you are a success-minded individual, you should focus on becoming more “gritty”. To do so:

1)    Set long term goals

2)    Train yourself to not be discouraged by failure

3)    Learn to delay gratification

4)    Become passionate about your cause

5)    Never give up

6)    Focus on winning the marathon, not the sprint

7)    Reward yourself for lasting power, do not become a flash in the pan.

Consider Aesop’s fable; The Tortoise and the Hare. The Hare is speed, he is flashy, he is loud and in the end he is the loser. The Tortoise is slow, persistent, consistent and gritty.

Be the Tortoise, not the Hare: the future belongs to you.

Thanks for reading,

Stefan Aarnio

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