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  • Writer's pictureDr Maike Neuhaus

The most underrated secret to perseverance (and how you can cultivate it)

For as long as I can think, I’ve had people around me tell me that I am stubborn and impulsive. Thanks to Psychologist and Professor Angela Duckworth, I have been able to re-frame this: I am not stubborn and impulsive, I am gritty.

And that, my friends, is awesome. Not only does that, according to my books, mean I get two points for re-framing something negative into something positive; it also gives me another two points for, well, being gritty!

Grit is one of the top self-leadership skills you can hope for

In fact, grit is what can, more reliably than any other characteristic, distinguish the successful from the non-successful. It’s not intelligence, not luck, not wealth, not talent nor anything else we tend to think of first and foremost, but grit.

Duckworth, who coined the term, defines grit as passion and perseverance for long-term goals. Passion and perseverance – anyone else see the parallel to stubborn and impulsive?

Your grit is what will make you endure the fight for your dreams and goals until you reach them. In fact, it is what will make you organise your life around your goal because your eyes are so firm on it that nothing else matters. Grit is what will make you get up after a setback – again and again. And, grit is what will make you hold yourself to your highest standards.

So, how can you cultivate grit?

While grit, just like many other personality characteristics, is influenced by genes, it can be volitionally cultivated as well.

Frankly, grit is the combination of talent and effort. Except that effort counts twice. According to Duckworth, talent is your ability to create skill: If you have a talent and put some effort into cultivating it, you can develop a skill. And, when you take your skill and put effort into refining it, you will accomplish achievement.

Once cultivated, you can further develop your grit through four psychological assets:

  1. Interest: Our grit naturally seems to be the stronger the more interest or passion we can develop for something.

  2. Purpose: Purpose refers to a higher meaning that goes beyond ourselves. The more you can tie your goal to serve a greater good, the more grit you are likely to have.

  3. Practice: Deliberate practice is essential in order to continuously push yourself that little bit closer to your goal.

  4. Hope: Hope is the determination to instill positive change in your own life. While it might be tempting to think that you either have hope or not, it is similar to optimism and positivity in that it is a mindset you can develop.

If there is one tool out of all that I had to give you onto your self-leadership journey post-launch, it would be grit.

If you learn to become as gritty as people think I’m stubborn and impulsive, you’ll be sweet.

Maike x


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