Having grit means being in possession of courage, strength and resolve – it means having passion and perseverance for very long term goals. Literary and cinematic characters that are known for their grit are persistent, resilient and thrive during uncertain times. While we might not be the smartest or most talented individuals, people with grit never give up and our comfort with failure often results in communities looking to us when there isn’t a playbook or recipe for what to do next. Here are three reasons why you should cultivate grit.
Failing fosters innovation
Few, if any, great ideas are launched perfectly. Being comfortable with failure is essential for creatively solving big problems as well as re-imagining how people work together to achieve positive impact in our communities. Trying and failing (or testing and learning) is central to innovation. There’s such a thing as the “embrace failure movement” that is sweeping across organizations and through neighbourhoods because human beings know that it’s a ridiculous expectation to think that we will achieve perfection the first time. It’s why IDEO – a global leader in innovative problem solving – features prototyping so prominently in their model of human centered design. So don’t think of mistakes as failures; think of them as awesome learning experiences!
Resilience is contagious
A few years ago I had a colleague who had worked in her field for over two decades. She is innovative, collaborative and possesses a unique passion for service. Her challenge was that not everyone saw what I saw and the lack of recognition wore on her because she was struggling to take her career to the next level. Relentlessly, she asked for feedback and sought out coachingso that she could improve. Most importantly, she channeled being pissed off at her naysayers into a positive attitude and incredible work ethic that kept guys like me on my toes in a good way. The chip on her shoulder could’ve crushed her goals, but she didn’t let that happen. With patience, ambition and grit she earned a promotion and has been performing at a high level ever since. Resilience can change the world; just ask John McKinley from the Acumen Fund.
Uncertainty requires gritty leadership
We live in uncertain times. I argue that human beings have always lived in uncertain times and that our lives today move faster, are addicted to distraction, and are chock-full of more misinformation than truth. Great leaders are the ones who can guide people through uncertain times by clearly communicating what’s changing and, most importantly, by taking an unfamiliar course because it’s the right thing to do.According to Angela Duckworth, grit is a key predictor of success – we can always learn something if we work long and hard enough (this is called “the growth mindset”). Especially if we treat life for what it is: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And having grit means having stamina to navigate the joyful chaos thrown at us.