What is Grit and How to Cultivate It?
It’s been about 5 weeks into my commitment to put 110% into cultivating this blog. Frankly, the initial high was there in the beginning, but now I can definitely see some motivation waxing and waning. Have you ever experienced those times where you compare yourself to others, even though you know you’re just starting out on your journey and the blog/the podcast/the thing you’re comparing yourself to is about 4 years ahead of you? And even if you do know that, it’s still SO HARD to not compare yourself to their success?
Yeah, that’s where I am right now - right into that pit of despair, AKA: informed pessimism.
t’s nice to know that it’s such a common emotional challenge that they even have the psychological stages mapped out for you! The kicker is, most people quit at the stage of ‘informed pessimism’ and they don’t bother to push through the hard work to get to completion.
What is it about ‘those people’ that trudge through the pit of despair to end up on top? They have something called GRIT, also known as resilience, also known as the trait people have of not giving up when it could be easier to give up than move forward.
Picking up Amanda Duckworth’s book Grit is a powerful eye opener on this are of positive psychology. For those who don’t know who she is, she’s a research and a MacArthur fellowship award winner (so pretty much a badass woman) whose career is built around describing grit, defining it, and how to cultivate it. If you haven’t checked out her TedTalk, it’s been view over 12 million times (and it’s only a little over 6 minutes long)
What is "Grit?"
There could be semester courses on grit (there probably are), but in it’s basic foundation, grit is defined as “perseverance for long-term goals.” Grit is doing something even if it’s hard because of the vision for a long term goal and what succeeding to reach that goal would look like.
Best of all, It’s a character trait that you can cultivate.
So...how can you cultivate grit?
Come from a place of abundance.
Most people come from a place of lack, also known as a the scarcity mentality. For example, we ask ourselves sometimes, “if we had all the money in the world, what would we do with it?” That question itself comes from a place of ‘not having’ something - a scarcity mentality. Those who have a scarcity mentality often have difficulty in promoting the success of others and see one’s success as a subtraction from the overall success that’s out there (i.e.: there won’t be enough pie to go around!)
In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey covers this topic in depth, stating that those who see life with infinite possibilities and resources as having an ‘abundance mentality.’ Having an abundance mentality means having the mindset that there is enough success to go around and they share recognition and prestige widely with others, believing that it opens doors and create new opportunities. An example of someone who shares the abundance mentality is Shalene Flannigan.
Surround yourself with people who persevere.
It is often said you’re the average of the 5 closest people to you. So why not surround yourself with like-minded individuals who don’t give up easily, who know how to persevere, and who can elevate you when you’re feeling in that pit of despair. If you look at highly successful people, they’re often surrounded by others who are also crushing it, doing their thing, and promoting the welfare of each other (rather than bringing each other down). It’s difficult to be negative when you’re surrounding yourself with positive people who have a similar mindset and understand and want to watch you grow and thrive!
Adopt patterns in divergent thinking.
Divergent thinking in psychology describes a strategy of thinking that creates multiple solutions to one problem to find out what works. In contrast, convergent thinking is the traditional thinking in the sense that there is one solution to one problem (for example, multiple choice answers on standardized tests). Adopting a divergent thinking pattern is essentially understanding that there are multiple ways to interpret a question or a problem, and subsequently there are multiple solutions (some solutions may be better than others). Most people have been taught to think in a convergent manner (how many standardized tests have you taken in your lifetime?). Divergent thinking is often associated with creativity. Most problems are solved with a blend of convergent and divergent thinking, so it’s not to say that one type of thinking pattern is ‘better’ than the other. But since you’ve lived your whole life thinking convergently, why not balance it out and hone your divergent thinking? Brainstorming, free writing (let those words flow!) and mind-mapping are ways to encourage divergent thinking.
Adopt a growth mindset
Developed by Carol Dweck, a growth mindset is understanding that the brain is plastic, malleable and is forever learning, growing, and changing to challenges. This is contrast to a fixed mindset, which is the belief that you’re who you are and you’re either good or bad at something and that’s it. A growth mindset is adopting the idea that skills and abilities can be learned, developed, and can grow. Having a growth mindset will help you create a thought process in which effort is rewarded and you can become smarter by putting in the effort towards your goals.
Live life like a marathon instead of a sprint.
Believing that failure is fixed is the opposite of growth. To that same line, believing that life is a sprint is the opposite of perseverance towards a long-term goal. Once you understand that building a business, or creating something that’s impactful, takes time, patience, and a lot of work along the way, it’s a lot easier to push forward when times get tough.
Resources for more information:
Ken Robinson’s TedTalk on the education system
If you have any other strategies on how to build a growth mindset, or how to cultivate grit and resilience, please comment below!