Grit is a word that has come back in use. In 2013, educators were writing about grit, saying that it is the single most important factor in success at school, work, business and relationships. This makes sense because, in order to be successful, one needs to stick at things despite hard times.
Anyone who has been married for a long time will attest to the fact that marriage takes a lot of work and perseverance. Staying in the relationship, and working things out, takes grit.
Similarly, businessmen will tell you that building a business is a long term process which requires hard work, determination and persistence over many years. It is well known that inventors have many setbacks and failures which they need to work through before they perfect their invention.
Life deals every person the same setbacks and tragedies. It is the people who bounce back and recover from these situations that eventually make it.
Grit can be defined as stamina, passion and perseverance. Sticking with your future for years and working hard to make it a reality.
The question is, how does one build grit or maintain it?
The answer is to learn:
- emotion regulation, and
- a positive thinking style.
It has been shown that your mood, and attitude to life, will interfere with your ability to stay the course and solve problems.
Specifically, research* on optimism and pessimism has shown that optimists cope better overall. Optimists are problem focused and plan-oriented. Optimists tend to accept the reality of stressful events, try to see the best in bad situations and try to learn something from them.
Pessimists, on the other hand, tend to disengage from goals when a situation becomes stressful. Pessimists tend to avoid acceptance of difficult situations using escapism and more emotion-focused coping.
The good news is that it is possible to learn to think like an optimist and to reduce anxiety and fear. Moreover, pessimism and depression can be managed with appropriate treatment like CBT.
Having a “growth mindset” is part of grit too. That is, believing that you can change and develop no matter your age or gender. Therefore, from today, you can begin to develop grit by being positive about the possibility of developing grit and actively seeking tools that can assist you.
*Carver, Scheier & Weintraub, 1989