Most likely to succeed? It comes down to grit

April 21, 2016

That person’s got what it takes to succeed.

What is the “it”? Smarts? Vision? Creativity? Those are great qualities, but they can’t make a full impact without another ingredient: determination to get things done — in a word, grit.

Grit keeps us going when things get tough. It pushes us toward the finish line when we’re too far away to see it. When we get stuck, grit insists there has to be another way.

Psychologists have recently found that the grittier a person is, the likelier they are to succeed. The connection is so strong that grit is a better predictor of success than raw talent or high IQ.*

Whether or not you’re naturally gritty, it’s the kind of mettle you can develop. It comes down to believing that change — in your abilities and circumstances — is always possible through your own actions.

This is what goes on in a gritty frame of mind:

• Growth is always possible. You know you can expand your abilities. You choose to learn from, rather than judge yourself for, the things you didn’t do well.

• Change presents opportunities. When you’re faced with change, you stay positive. Resisting change (I hate starting over. What a waste of time. I’ll never see the point of this.) makes the problem grow bigger in our minds. Adapting to change (Why not? Maybe it’ll surprise me. At least I’ll learn something new.) keeps us thinking in solution-oriented ways, which becomes second nature over time.

• Hard work is sometimes hard. You keep an eye on the bigger picture. You’re willing to make sacrifices for the end result. You know that setbacks are only temporary.

• Achievements don’t happen overnight. You’re in it for the long haul. You set your goals with a sense of purpose and realistic milestones. So there’s all the more reason to stick with the plan and less temptation to hit snooze or reset.

* Curious about the research? Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth’s TEDx talk is a great place to start. To check how gritty you are, take Duckworth’s grit scale test online. Want to find out if grit (or something else) is your greatest strength? The Superpowers card deck, made by SYPartners, the creators of Unstuck, will bring that to light.

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