Certain words never lose their value or the visuals they conjure up — and Grit is one of those words. When we associate grit with someone, it goes way beyond just being tough. It’s that something extra in the face of adversity.
Throughout the years we have seen many stories of grit, and it touches us so deeply when the human spirit triumphs over situations that seem nearly impossible to overcome. The GRIT dynamic comes from a hybrid of character traits: Intensity, toughness and a never-give-up, scrappy perseverance.
Given the circumstances that entrepreneurs tackle on a daily basis, would you say we need GRIT in order to succeed? I believe the answer is a resounding yes! Let’s face it, entrepreneurs enter a world where there are vastly more failures than successes– in order to succeed we need to have an undying belief that our business and ideas will defy the statistics and become the success story that we have always strived to achieve.
So given the odds being what they are, what does it take to break through? Well, for one… GRIT. It is a battle of will, and unflinching intensity and toughness to achieve the results that you desire. Let’s look at some examples of GRIT:
Remember the “Thrilla in Manilla,” where Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier battled in extreme heat for 15 rounds? GRIT.
Remember Kurt Warner, the heroic 2000 Super Bowl MVP with the St. Louis Rams? Do you know that six years earlier, after being cut in camp by the Green Bay Packers he had actually got a job working minimum wage stocking grocery shelves… only to win football’s highest honor so many years later. GRIT
Remember Diana Nyad, the 60 year woman, that attempted to swim across the Straits of Florida while enduring severe jellyfish stings? GRIT
These people went into situations where the odds were not in their favor but understood the consequence of quitting or not trying. This is what sums up the psyche of an entrepreneur. There is no safety net, no guarantees and in many cases no fairy-tale ending.
Being Defined by What You Produce
Entrepreneurs are truly defined by performance. Employees of a company get paid a salary whether the company shows a profit or loss– the entrepreneur’s fate works only if you profit. Because of this, intensity and toughness are vital tools in the entrepreneurs tool shed.
Talent is not enough to be a successful entrepreneur– it takes an exceptional commitment to ambition and goal setting.
Entrepreneurs have always battled 2 things that are the cornerstones of their compulsion and drive:
1. Freedom to create without restrictions. Those of you that have worked for companies know how difficult it is to think and communicate freely. If you’re in the box, you can only operate inside the box. Your choices are Up, Down, East or West. An entrepreneur does not have those restrictions. Yes we have a ton of more responsibility on our shoulders, but we can operate outside of the box, simply because it’s our own gig and we can do what we want, when we want to do it.
The lens of the entrepreneur does not see things black or white or one dimensional if we are good entrepreneurs. We have the ability to be asymmetrical and multi-angled in our perspectives of a situation, which allows us to think differently and get better results.
2. We don’t get results for the efforts we put in but only the results that come back. Many people that work for companies always complain about “I don’t get paid enough working the hours I do,” or, “I don’t get compensated enough for the successful ideas I bring to the company.” Well, you don’t own it, so you don’t get paid for it! And that’s what drives the entrepreneur.
The Business of Meeting Your Challenges
If you remember the football movie “Rudy,” it was the quintessential tale of GRIT. Rudy lacked size, talent and skill but persevered and went on to make the Notre Dame football team. Entrepreneurs come in all different shapes, sizes and circumstances and that is why there’s no manual in how to become successful at it.
Success is often measured by a person’s grit and toughness. Intelligence is helpful when embarking on the entrepreneurial journey, but grit is the defining trait that will allow you to push past failure , disappointment, fatigue and all the other challenges that confront the entrepreneur.
OK. We now know that Grit and toughness are invaluable skills for an entrepreneur, but is it measurable?
The Grit Scale
Dr. Angela Duckworth, PHD and Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania has developed a way to measure grit. Her findings explain that people who score high on the Grit Scale are more successful than their brilliant but less motivated counterparts. Her research continued to show that students who measured high on the Grit Scale got better grades and also had more job success after graduation than those with lower scores.
Understanding that Grit is important, ask yourself these questions to test is you have entrepreneurial grit:
Are you passionate (intensity) about what you do and care about?
When challenges happen in your life, do you cower or do you meet them head on (perseverance)?
Do you have a results oriented mind-set?