“The cowards never started, and the weak died along the way – that leaves us”
– Phil Knight, founder of Nike
There are two adjacent ideas in the field of psychological research which are incredibly interesting on their own, but even more so when we explore them together.
Angela Duckworth won the MacArthur award – otherwise known as the Genius Award – for her work with recruits at the military academy West Point. The training that goes on there is notorious for being some of the toughest in the world, and she found that it didn’t matter how smart or physically fit the soldiers were. The thing that mattered more than anything was what she came to describe as Grit. In other words, the ability to tough it out once the going got really rough.
The point here is not that you have to be tough to be a soldier – that is fairly obvious to most of us – the point is that Grit is a predictor of success in almost every conceivable walk of life. If you want to be successful you have to be willing to tough it out when it matters most. Duckworth found this to be true regardless if you were a soldier, a sportsperson, a business man or woman or any other field where it’s not always roses and butterflies.
This research gets really interesting however, when we consider it in conjunction with Carol Dwecks research on the Growth mindset. Dweck found that one of the main differentiators between those who achieve massive success and those who fiddle the strings of mediocrity is the core belief that they are able to grow. In other words that they are able to learn and improve on a daily basis.
This is interesting, because even if you’re not gritty, you can learn to be. Even if you don’t have what it takes to make it to the top of your field right now, you can learn all the right skills.
If you toughen up, stay gritty and focus your mind on learning every day, improving and staying disciplined especially when you want to quit, you can go on to achieve great things.