Life is full of challenges. Whether it’s something small like a crossword clue that you just can’t figure out, or a larger issue like a particularly taxing project at work, we all have to deal with problems that frustrate us. When you encounter these difficulties, do you recoil and throw your hands in the air? If so, maybe developing a little more resilience could be a good thing.
A popular buzzword for this is grit. Grit has nothing to do with natural aptitude. Instead, it comes from the willingness to face life’s challenges head on, no matter the stumbling blocks along the way. “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals,” says Angela Duckworth, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. “Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future.” And Duckworth should know because she wrote the book on grit.
Develop The Will to Stick With It
I have found that perseverance is not an intrinsic skill. Sure, some of us may be born with a little more than others, but everyone can cultivate a sense of toughness if they want to. A lot of it comes down to mindset and how bad you actually want something. When you approach challenges as stimulation, rather than a source of anxiety, you lay the mental groundwork to increase your grittiness. It’s about enjoying the journey to get to the end result and celebrating the small wins along the way.
That’s not to say that you wake up one morning and decide to be the type of person who never quits. It takes time and effort. You have to be willing to accept feedback, look hard at yourself, and find the motivation to improve. In a sense, taking a proactive approach to increasing your perseverance will be the first challenge you face. Once you can commit to becoming resilient, you’ll be prepared to tackle the next hurdle that comes your way.
We all have had the experience of a new job — the excitement of starting fresh and the possibility of what you can accomplish in a role. However, for many of us, it doesn’t take long for reality to set in. Once you get your feet wet in the job you often realize that it’s going to be harder to make an impact than you originally thought. For example, you may learn about the office politics and find yourself unsure how to avoid the landmines or whom to turn to for guidance. Giving up when you hit that point should not be your first option.
When I have experienced this in my professional life, I have found that positivity and purpose go a long way in changing my mindset. It helps me find where I can have an impact so I can feel like I am still making progress. I have found when I can turn around self doubt and instead believe in what I am working toward and trust that I can achieve it, it becomes a lot harder to give up when facing adversity. This allows me to push out the noise and instead persevere and stay true to the vision and goals that are set. This has really helped me get through the down times, or days where things are not going the way I had hoped. By keeping my eye on the bigger picture, it can help me shrug off the small stuff.
The first step is to make an effort, or better yet, a decision, to change your mindset. But I think there’s another step. You can have all the perseverance or grit in the world, but if you don’t approach your challenges with a sense of compassion and authenticity, you won’t find the kind of success that will keep you on a winning trajectory.
It’s important to think about what makes you authentically you. What motivations are from the heart, and which are not? Are you speaking your truth, standing up for what you believe in, and keeping an open mind? Rather than looking outside of yourself, what can you control?
As you travel down the road toward becoming somebody who never balks at a complicated project, don’t lose sight of your teammates. If you think growing grit requires you to go it alone or abandon your authenticity, you will find yourself with the same result. Perseverance doesn’t have to come at the expense of yourself or others, instead being kind to yourself and supporting others along the way can make all the difference in your success.
Compassion, like grit, is not an inherent trait but rather a learned one. It’s especially important to keep it in mind while you’re working on strengthening your resolve. As you grow your ability to weather any storm, remember that resilience shines brightest when paired with traits like kindness, communication, and mindfulness. When you can balance these attributes with the strength to persevere, there’s no limit to what you can achieve.
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