Grit has been a popular watchword these last few years. Interest in grit as a personality trait grew following the publication of the book of the same name by University of Pennsylvania psychologist and MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant winner, Angela Duckworth.
Duckworth studied cadets at The United States Military Academy at West Point to uncover what makes some succeed while others call it quits. What she discovered was that a combination of passion and perseverance determined success far and above any other expected — though still important — traits, such as physical prowess, reaction times, and cognitive ability.
However, getting gritty isn’t as easy as powering up your passion and running with it. First of all, you may need to figure out what your passion actually is. Then, how to keep it front and center when — yes, when — the going gets ultra-tough.
But we’ve got your back. Here are three ways to help you get gritty, starting now.
How Do You Build Grit?
Know Your “Who”
“The power behind grit is thinking about the WHO that you are doing this for," Hyams says. "Are you pushing through to be an example to someone, to prove someone wrong, or to prove to the old version of you that the new version is finally here?”
Humans are, after all, relational beings. That means, we live in relation to others, recognizing our interconnectedness and need for community.
“We can always find an excuse for ourselves,” Hyams says. “But when we have that WHO in mind, we won't want to let them down. Bottom line, find your who, and the grit will follow."
Dig Deep. Then Dig Some More.
Hyams also believes that grit moves beyond working hard.
“If someone is giving it their all, there will always come a time they need to dig deeper,” he says.
For many, this is the "carry on or cave in" moment. But as Hyams sees it, if you believe that your work matters and that what you’re doing connects to others, then that will be the conviction you need to keep on keeping on.
In Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Duckworth builds further on this by noting that grit “rests on the expectation that our own efforts can improve our future.” It’s the difference, she writes, between passively believing that “tomorrow will be better” and resolving to make tomorrow better.
Spartan the F*** Up!
Most Spartans won’t be surprised to hear that developing grit can start in the gym.
“Grit is really the ability to persevere when faced with setbacks," Troy Rand, Spartan SGX Coach and founder of South Florida Fitness, says. "And in many tough workouts, what you’re doing is working through setbacks and responding to challenges. So, in other words, you’re developing grit.”
But what happens in the gym doesn’t stay in the gym. According to Rand, regularly sweating through a really tough workout enables you to transfer what you’ve mastered to other parts of your life.
“One of the great things about Spartan training is that you’re going to be doing workouts that are really hard," he says. "But the more that you stay the course and accomplish them, the more you see that you can accomplish them. And this sense of what you can accomplish carries over to other areas of life.
“You push yourself through the last 15 minutes of a really hard workout, and then you find you can also push yourself through the last 15 minutes of a really boring business meeting. Or — just as you use the feedback from a challenge in the gym to ask ‘How can I move forward in a productive manner?’ — you apply that same logic when dealing with your kids.”
Rand contends that you can gain grit while smashing workouts in the gym, and that the harder you train, the bigger the challenges will be.
"But the grittier you become, the more ability you have to persevere and overcome them, and also to overcome the challenges to being a better spouse, parent, worker, boss, and in all other areas of regular life,” he says.