What is Grit? Why Does It Matter in the Workplace?
What's the best predictor of success? IQ, talent, luck? Nope. It's 'grit,' more than anything else. Students who don't have the highest IQs in their class, but get high grades share the attitude called "grit" or emotional intelligence. They keep plugging away, despite setbacks or failures. In many instances, those are the students who become successful at jobs of all kinds. The higher you go up the ladder, the more emotional intelligence matters.
The term “grit” was made popular in academic circles in 2013 by Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania Psychology. Calling it the “quality of being able to sustain your passions, and also work really hard at them, over really disappointingly long periods of time. But why do some people have grit and others don't? There are many talented individuals who simply do not follow through on their commitments. Duckworth determined that people with grit are people who can overcome stress and use failure as a means to achieve their ultimate goals.
So how do we grow Grit in Leadership?
I am of the belief that if given enough time, leadership can be learned. We develop grit when we believe we can learn something and we work to do it. Those in leadership positions, need to wake up and try something new. At first it can be anything, just something that’s hard and new that you've never done. Get a mentor and put some time and effort into crafting a new skill. As you begin to try new things, you'll start to have confidence in your own ability to learn. This is where you are able to help others believe in themselves, because you understand that desire. You will be amazed at what happens next, you'll inspire them! They'll believe they can do anything and they'll be right.
How do you Derail the Development of Grit?
Easy. You quit. Or you never try new, hard things. When you quit, you become safe in your comfort zone. We discussed the importance of stepping out of our comfort zone last week.
You say “this is too hard and I’m comfortable not doing that hard thing”. This might be fine for you, but in the back of your mind you start to doubt if you could. Many leaders don’t believe in themselves to the point of attempting something new, challenging, difficult etc. Instead they play it safe. It might be scary, but perhaps one of the most important steps you can take in your career and even your life. The brain doesn’t know the difference between failing and refusing to try. Both are the same in the eyes of the brain.
What’s the fix?
Those in leadership positions, need to wake up and try something new. At first it can be anything, just something that’s hard and new that you've never done. Get a mentor and put some time and effort into crafting a new skill. As you begin to try new things, you'll start to have confidence in your own ability to learn and that will breed belief in your people’s ability to learn. You have to embrace the possible opportunities and listen to your passions to live your dream. You will be amazed at what happens next… You'll inspire them! They'll believe they can do anything and they'll be right.
What does that mean for you? It means that it’s OK if you aren’t the smartest person in the room or the smartest person in the job. It means the effort you expend toward your goals (perseverance) and your dedication throughout your career journey (passion) are what matter more than how you scored on your SAT or an IQ test. Why? Because grit will always trump talent.
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