Grit is the key to getting what you want

Persistence, resilience, and grit, words that we have used to described someone who seems to never give up, focused and determined in what they do and achieve the things that they do.

Grit is best described or defined by Angela Duckworth in her book “Grit the power of passion and perseverance as “grit is passion and sustained persistence applied toward long-term achievement, with no particular concern for rewards or recognition along the way.  It combines resilience, ambition, and self-control in the pursuit of goals that takes months, years or even decades.  Based on her research, she documents how grit predicts long-term success in nearly every realm of life. 

The culture of today is contrary to grit, in that, we want everything now and little effort as possible.  The culture of instant success, instant achievements without the hard work, effort, determination, and grit.  That makes it more likely than ever that people will give up before ever achieving their goals or desired outcome.  Why?  The ability for them to keep on going on when the going tough is just not there.  This ability of grit takes time and challenges to overcome.

What does grit help you to do?

Grit allows you to achieve these 3 key areas:

  1. Keeps you achieving goals.
  2. Keeps you focus.
  3. Keeps you going

Keeps you achieving goals

The 2 keys in grit that keeps you achieving goals are:

  1. Purpose.
  2. Sustained persistence.

Before any goals or achievements can be realised, it has to start from a purpose.  We don’t just do things for the sake of doing things.  We can do that, but you will soon realise that achieving goals just for goals sake without a deeper purpose does not bring about satisfaction.  Purpose that is fulfilled gives you meaning and satisfaction that goes beyond the feeling of pride or happiness that a goal is met.  It means more because it comes from a state of meaning.  Purpose needs to be the heart of why we do what we do.  Out of that purpose is where goals, targets, ambitions are born.  Purpose or your why, should always be your starting point.

Once you have your why or your purpose, then you are able to set goals that you want to achieve.  To realise any of those goals, you will need to be able to have sustained persistence.  You will need to have persistence not just once or twice but over a sustained period.  In some cases, over months and even decades.  We know (but total dislike) that challenges, difficulties, tough situations, and problems will arise, and they usually will come as a bundle deal.  Like a meal deal, it is never just one at a time but when it comes, it just comes and sometimes it may feel like it never ends.  That is where sustained persistence comes into the picture.

Sustained persistence over a long period is required to overcome, to work through and push down the barriers that are faced.  However, once we can move past the difficulties and achieve the desired outcomes, the victory is also very sweet.  Probably sweeter because of all the adversities that had to be overcome.

Grit is more than just persistence or perseverance.  It is about having that something extra and that is that it has be sustained.   It’s for the long haul. 

Keeps you focus

The 2 keys in grit that keeps you focus are:

  1. Ambition or a goal.
  2. Self-control

You have a goal to achieve.  You have a purpose to fulfill.  Grit is not just persistence; it has an element of ambition.  The element of ambition is an important differentiating aspect because it gives you a purpose, a why, a goal to aim for.  You are not just persisting for the sake of persisting.  It’s like how some people don’t give up even if they are hitting their heads against the wall or even when they are wrong because to give up means that they are losers.  Well, persistent with ambition is not just being persistent for the sake of persistent but because you want to achieve something.  That will drive you at a very different level.

Ambition or a goal or a purpose, your why will help to keep you focus.  You know why you are doing what you are doing.  You know why you are persisting.

To ensure that you stay focus, that is where self-control comes into play.  Self-control is pretty much self-explanatory.  You have the ability to control or to discipline yourself whether it is around your thoughts, emotions or actions.  Self-control is required is pretty much everyday situation.  We need self-control in order to do the things that we don’t like to do but know that we have do, to wake up in the morning even though you really don’t want, to keep your emotions in check in front of a difficult client and the list goes on.

Self-control is key to personal leadership.  Afterall, if you are not able to lead yourself, how would you expect to lead others.  Self-control is key to enabling personal leadership to be walked out in your life.

Keeps you going

There are 2 attributes in grit that helps you to keep going are:

  1. Passion
  2. The lack of concern for recognition or reward along the way. 

Think about it.  For most people, when we face challenges, barriers or setbacks, we get discouraged, disappointed, and frustrated and probably have lots of thoughts of giving up.

However, passion is a key value here that will keep you going.  When the going gets tough and there will be tough situations to overcome, passion is critical in ensuring that we pick ourselves up and keeps us at it.  Passion being part of grit is there to help drive you forward.  Passion in many ways is difficult to describe but once you have experienced it, you just know its that extra something that gets you wake up energised, to see possibilities from setbacks, opportunities from failures.  When you are passionate about something, you put your heart and effort into it.  Passion does not die easily.  In fact, without passion, the various innovations that we are now benefitting from would not have come to reality.

The second attribute that keeps you going is the fact that recognition and reward is not the reason why you are doing what you are doing.  People who need recognition or are driven by reward to keep them going will naturally stop when they don’t receive it.  People who are clear on their purpose, who are passionate about what they want to achieve seldom require other people’s recognition or affirmation to keep going.  In fact, they pretty much ignore the naysayers in the process.

How does one develop grit?

  1. Resistance
  2. Work it out
  3. Know your why


Well, sadly it is not an attribute that you get.  It is not like talent where you have some natural strength or skills in certain areas.  Grit is fair in that each of us must develop it.  To develop it, just like any muscle, it requires resistance.  Resistance in the form of challenges, tough situations, difficulties, and just plain hard work.

Grit is developed through resistance, and it is all about usage or practice or application.  You have to get outside of your comfort zone, try new things, learn new things until you are able to develop your mental toughness.

Work it out

Just like how you would go about developing muscles, you will have to work it out.  When you are looking at building your muscles, it is not just about buying the resistance band or the weights.  It is about actually working it out.  It is about actually doing it.  In order for you develop grit, you will need to work it out.  You will need to increase your mental toughness, apply the growth mindset, and keep at it.

Know your why

That’s right, you will need to know why you are doing what you are doing.  Without a clear purpose or knowing why you want to achieve a certain goal or outcome, you will lose your passion and the determination to keep on keeping on.  No one has an unlimited supply of perseverance.  What we do have is the opportunity to fill and refill the perseverance bucket through constantly reminding yourself when you need it towards your why.  Get back to knowing the heart of the reason for your effort and hard work.

Let me summarise. 

Grit is critical in ensuring that you get what you want.  To achieve what you want.  To achieve what brings you meaning, impact and satisfaction.  Grit allows you to achieve these 3 key areas:

  1. Keeps you achieving goals.
  2. Keeps you focus.
  3. Keeps you going

How would you develop grit?  Think of developing grit like a muscle.  You need resistance, you need to work it out and in order for you to keep working at it, you need to know your why.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this blog with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 


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