Fitness (His Edition)
The dictionary definition of grit (n) is - ‘courage and resolve; strength of character.’ I don’t think that definition does this powerful personality trait justice, though.
In my line of work I get to meet and speak to many outstanding people who have achieved many amazing feats, whether it be reaching the pinnacle of their sport, or achieving their physical or physique oriented goals.
Over the years these interactions have helped to distill the character traits and attitudes shared by these successful people, and the overriding attribute shared by them all is best described as ‘grit’. This type of grit is more than just courage and resolve. It runs much deeper. It’s what drives them to succeed in the face of adversity. It shapes their perceptions of challenges, and reframes their vocabulary, their thinking and their daily actions around how they tackle the task at hand.
It’s a subject that holds intense interest for me, particularly from a sporting perspective. For example, the performance of two athletes of similar genetic and physical ability often comes down to their ‘grit’ – how they doggedly chase after their goals, making sure they complete every training session, giving it 100% each time. And if they miss their target, it’s how they pick themselves back up and get straight back onto the path towards their next attempt.
In my quest to deepen my understanding of the psychology behind grit, given recent personal failures and my burning desire to perform to my full potential, I came across the work of an amazing human being.
Angela Duckworth is an academic, behavioural psychologist, a MacArthur ‘Genius’ fellow, the founder and CEO of the Character Lab, and author of the New York Times bestseller, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. She studies grit and self-control, which her website explains are “two attributes that are distinct from IQ and yet powerfully
In the context of behaviour, Duckworth defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” Based on her studies, Duckworth has identified that individuals who exhibit high levels of grit are able to maintain their determination and motivation over long periods, despite experiences with failure and adversity.
However, in spite of her extensive research into the subject, Duckworth says that the essence of grit remains elusive. What she has unearthed are a number of other traits and tools that we can apply to our own lives, to up our ‘Grit score’. This will harden our mettle and our resolve in achieving what we want most in life. It’s a compelling book that will make for highly beneficial holiday reading. I highly recommend that anyone who is serious about achieving their goals in 2018 read the book.
In closing out what has been one of the most challenging yet still immensely rewarding years of my life, and in preparation for 2018, I can think of nothing more apt than sharing Duckworth’s insightful take on grit: “Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something. Instead, grit is about having ... an”ultimate concern” - a goal you care about so much that it organises and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow. Talent and luck matter to success. But talent and luck are no guarantee of grit. And in the very long run, I think grit may matter as least as much, if not more.”
Here’s to an all-round ‘grittier’ 2018!
PEDRO VAN GAALEN