Grit is the Key to Long Term Success

Typical discussion on accomplishing big dreams leads one to believe that all you need is to set a series of S.M.A.R.T. goals.  This means goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.  This is good advice, but it is only half of the equation – the tactical part.  The other half is the inspired part.  The part that grows from your imagination, gives a project life and commits you to your vision.  It resolves you to face fears and view failures as detours on the path to success.  It is also known as grit.

Grit is the quality that spurs one to get up after a nasty fall and try again.  It is defined as courage and resolve and strength of character.   People with grit make their dream a part of themselves and they keep at it long after their initial motivation wains.  Detailed project plans, descriptive presentations and thorough work flows are helpful tools to employ, but they will not carry you through the pitfalls and lulls experienced during lengthy endeavors.

I’m not the only one who appreciates grit.  There is a TED Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth on this very topic here.

Also, here are quotes from well-known leaders who understand how determination leads to long term success.

  • Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.  Thomas Edison
  • When confronted with a challenge the committed heart will search for a solution.  The undecided heart searches for an escape.  Andy Andrews
  • Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.  Dale Carnegie
  • History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.  B. C. Forbes
  • Persistence and determination are omnipotent.  The slogan press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.  Calvin Coolidge
  • Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.  Mario Andretti
  • Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.  Abraham Lincoln
  • All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.  Walt Disney

Now that we agree grit is a valuable quality, you may ask, how does one develop grit?  Here are the tricks that I use.  They have helped me go from a couch potato to marathoner in 16 weeks, earn an MBA while working full time, and accept ever increasing work responsibilities.

Use your imagination:

  • Mental movies – My movies are usual 15-30 seconds long and depict me being amazingly awesome at whatever I am doing.  For example, during marathon training, whenever I wanted to quit running, I’d imagine myself at the end of the race, sprinting with new found energy to cross the finish line while my family and friends cheered me on.
  • Vision boards – Create a physical representation of the vision of success you’ve been given.  Inspired visions are beautiful and a gift from God.  Representing them in a vision board an help you rekindle the excited feeling with fear, doubt and every day life creep in.  For example, my vision board has, images of beautiful family dinners, smiling faces, and a lovely home office.  These are meaningful to me and remind me that life isn’t stagnant and when I get an inspiration on how to improve my life, I should obey and move toward that objective.

Schedule success into your life:

  • Schedule daily tasks that contribute to your goals – This is a tactical approach to making success a matter of daily activity.  Set your mind to know, without doubt, that no matter what happens today, tomorrow you will take another step toward achieving your dreams.  As an aside, I love hand written goals and to-do lists.  It is positively exciting to me to check items off my list.

Change your internal dialogue:

  • Read inspirational quotes and stories – This is self-explanatory.  The short list of quotes I posted above is a great example.
  • Replace doubts with better feeling thoughts – Fear is the greatest threat to success.  Don’t listen to it, shut it down and always look for a better feeling thought.  For example, if you think you can’t do something, consider thinking, I can’t do that today.  This leaves room for possibility and possibility is the gateway to solutions.

Act when inspired:

  • This does not mean only act when inspired.  That would contradict the message of this article.  What I mean is to recognize that inspired action can take you further faster.  When you force yourself to do something and you muscle through it, it still aides your long term goals.  However, inspired action is phenomenal.  It’s being in the zone, and when you are there, it seems like time expands and creativity flows.  Try hard to always take advantage of these moments.

The underlying character traits of the most prominent contributors to society are passion, stamina and the understanding that mammoth undertakings require resilience and resolve…or in other words grit.  So I’ll close with an appropriate quote from Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up!”

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