Grit. It’s a wonderful, pithy word that people don’t use much anymore. It is most often defined as resolve, courage, commitment, and fortitude.
It speaks to seeing things through, even when the going gets tough. It means that striving to achieve goals is not an option, it is a given. Grit is a result of an attitude that says, “I can do this; I want to do this; I will do this; it’s important to do this.” And it has nothing to do with cognitive intelligence (IQ).
What vs. Why
The difference between IQ and attitude can really be related to the “what” and the “why” of achieving something. The individual with a high IQ will often know what needs to be accomplished and how s/he can use his/her intelligence to accomplish something.
The person with a great attitude will know what is to be accomplished but will also entertain the notion of “why” s/he must accomplish something.
When a highly intelligent individual fails to entertain the question of “why,” then motivation is often missing, tasks may not be completed, and goals are not met. The person with “grit,” however, will do whatever is necessary to complete the tasks and meet the goals.
Intelligence without the right attitude will not achieve success. But often, the right attitude without the highest level of intelligence will result in success.
Stanford University Study
It’s easy to think that people with high IQs have a “fast track” to success, but a recent study may show otherwise.
Dr. Carol Dweck has come to some interesting conclusions based on her research on the impact of attitude on performance. According to her, attitude is the key to high performance, not intelligence. This is because Dweck has identified two core attitudes that all people have – fixed or growth.
People with fixed attitudes believe that they have a fixed potential and cannot go beyond that. When they face new challenges, they often avoid them for fear of failure or being overwhelmed. Setbacks are devastating to those with this mindset.
People with growth attitudes believe that they can always increase their potential by learning and taking on new challenges, even when they face failure. They seek out opportunities to grow and learn. Setbacks do not overwhelm or deter people with growth attitudes.
Intelligence, according to Dweck, does not factor into success as much as having a growth mindset. This is because the individual with such an attitude will not accept failure. Despite the failure, they will push through and try something else to achieve a goal.
It’s difficult to assess one’s own attitude, and it does change based on situations and events. But it would be a good idea to look within and see if there is a lack of traits of a growth mindset. If so, there are some methods to develop a growth mindset and ensure that you stay in that mindset most of the time.
4 Strategies to Develop an Attitude of Growth
1. Adopt the Right Approach to Failure
Failure does two things to people. It stops them in their tracks, and they give up, or it becomes a lesson to use in moving forward. Most people don’t sail through life with anything but success. Certainly, J.K. Rowling didn’t. She had many rejections of her first Harry Potter book before a publisher took a chance on her. What if she had quit early?
What if Walt Disney had just gone after another newspaper reporting job after he was fired from the Kansas City Star? He didn’t go after another newspaper job because, in that failure, he realized he had bigger and better things to do. That firing simply provided the impetus to go after the big goal.
What if Nick Woodman had given up after two business failures? He could have gone to work for his father, but he didn’t. Instead, he founded GoPro and is now a multimillionaire and giant philanthropist.
The list could here go on, but you get the idea.
When you experience failure, have an inner dialogue with yourself instead of holding a pity party and thinking of yourself as a failure. Ask yourself what you have learned that you can now use as you go forward.
Perhaps you have learned that the career you chose is really not right for you. That’s a huge discovery that will now move you in a different direction. And how liberating that discovery can be – you are free to explore other options about which you will have more passion. A growth mindset is always focused on what can be learned.
2. Identify Your Passions
A growth mindset looks for where there can be passion. It may be a hobby that can be turned into a business; it may be a deep-seated desire to pursue a cause.
When you can identify those things, you will know where your life must head. You can then write a plan for how you will use that passion for your life’s work
3. Be Active, not Passive
The rigid mindset is, by its nature, rather passive. When you believe that you are who you are and that there is nothing more, you have passively accepted your current state and will stay there forever.
You may be afraid to try something new or to take on a challenge that may overwhelm you. Instead of sitting in that mindset, come up with one thing that you can do which will take you out of your comfort zone.
It doesn’t even have to be work-related. Maybe you have always avoided that roller coaster at Six Flags. Perhaps you have turned down invitations to happy hours or parties because you have trouble holding conversations with others. Or you are afraid to take that course you want because you might fail.
Choose something that will stretch you, do it, and congratulate yourself when you have achieved it. This will move you into the growth mindset, and you can then begin to set bigger and more important goals.
4. Go Beyond Your Self-Imposed Limits
We all place limits on ourselves, especially with respect to goal achievement. We accept that we are limited in math ability. We determine that we cannot find a better job so we don’t look.
Find one of those limitations that you have set for yourself and challenge it. Take a math course, upgrade your skills and get your resume out there. Start saving for that house you think you will never buy. Write the novel that is “in you” but that you think you can’t produce.
When you get yourself into that growth mindset zone, your attitude changes from one of resignation to one of optimism. Which would you rather have?
How Can You Get Your Grit on For Success?
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