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My favorite movie as a kid was “True Grit” starring John Wayne. I must have watched it 25 times growing up with my Dad. I still remember the life lessons from the film. But what is grit? How do we acquire it? Can we acquire it? Recent studies now show that “Grit” is a critical success factor in your personal and professional life – much more so than having talent or exceptional genes. University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth has spent an academic lifetime studying grit and her studies concluded that grit is more environmentally developed than acquired through your genes. It is also a truer indicator of success than talent. Amazing…I always knew this! In fact, military academies and special operations components are now benchmarking and testing incoming entrants to see if they have enough grit to make it through the initial stressful phases of the program. High SAT/GRE scores and IQ quotients are strong indicators of long term success, but grit is a stronger indicator that an individual with persevere and not quit the program. As actor and philosopher, Woody Allen, once said, “80% of success is just showing up!” Here are Ms. Duckworth’s four ways you can develop grit:

  1. Interest/Passion: do you really have a passionate interest in your vocation – your career? Are you mindful about what you do on a daily basis?
  2. Capacity to Practice: For mere survival, military special operators play their trade on a daily basis. Practice is hard. Many times boring. But to have grit, you have to practice, gain 360 degree feedback, and practice again. Simply put, the greats practice harder than everyone else.
  3. Sense of Purpose: those with grit, have a vision of what they want to do and who they want to be. This is the difference between “strivers” and “naturals”. Gritty people also tend to surround themselves with those having a similar vision and purpose.
  4. Hope: focus on only that which you can control. Hopeful people tend to be irrepressible people.

For further reading on grit, check out Angela Duckworth’s recent book, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”

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