Defining grit and building mental muscle

If you’ve ever had a moment in your life when you thought you couldn’t go on…
If you’ve ever accomplished something you never thought possible…
If you’ve ever rallied in the face of adversity and fiercely overcome the same…
If you’ve ever wondered how incredibly successful people accomplished mind-blowing feats…

This post is for you.

Defining grit

In order to understand the formula for grit (which I previously declared you can learn), we have to understand how it’s defined. At its core, grit is the unconditional drive to succeed in the face of adversity, even after getting knocked down. Notice I didn’t say that grit is success. It’s not. It’s a quality, a mentality, an approach.

Goals define success

In order to know if you’ve accomplished something, you have to know what you’re attempting to accomplish. Those who set soft goals (or none at all) will necessarily feel less successful. Sometimes we even set goals without realizing it. For instance, cooking dinner is a goal. It’s a simple goal, but there is certain gratification that accompanies a well cooked meal. In many ways, the level of success you feel is directly related to how completely a goal is achieved. In other words, if dinner is better than you expected, you’ll probably feel really great. In numbers, it probably means that you reached 110% of your making-dinner-goal.

Sometimes things don’t go as planned

Sometimes in life things don’t go as planned. The road to an enormous goal is rarely direct and easy. Unexpected obstacles are often placed by others acting on your path. Changes in direction and re-factoring almost always need to take place. And, even time itself creates challenges over a long enough period. The path to success is frequently unpredictable. Success matter-of-factly requires constant re-factoring.

Will is a mental muscle

If you’ve ever lifted weights, you know that there are some days that it comes easy, and other days that it’s a struggle. For the most part, in order to get stronger, you have to lift weights on a regular basis. Of course, many of us have heard of those superhuman moments when, in an extreme moment, someone is able to do something they otherwise couldn’t. Like the person who lifts a car off a child or runs across railroad tracks to save another human, we are all capable of extreme feats. However, those feats don’t come without the need to recover and re-charge. Sometimes it isn’t possible to recover fully after an extreme feat, so incrementally growing your grit muscle is the way to go.

The formula for your grit workout

We know that grit is a way of life, that goals define success, that the path to achieve goals is almost always obstacle-ridden, and that grit is what helps us power through the obstacles. But, how do you learn to have grit?

Befriend gritty people

One of the best ways to learn a new behavior is by imitating someone else. Of course, children imitate parental behavior, but as we get older there is stigma attached to imitating others. Let go of the stigma, and imitate the successful habits of a friend or co-worker that is always high-performing.

Be persistent

A lot has been written about breaking through the runner’s wall. It’s a real phenomenon. It’s your body and mind’s way of telling you that you’re pushing it further than it’s been pushed before. Hitting a wall doesn’t mean you should stop… but pain, anguish, anxiety, and depression are all signs that you might want to take your foot of the accelerator. Remember that persistence is an attribute that you alone create.

Take value based actions

Believing in what you’re clawing daily to achieve is of paramount importance. If you don’t value it, make a change. If you are passionate about what you’re attempting to accomplish, then go all in.

Orient toward action

Grit is all about action. Your default mode of operation should be doing. Remember that ol’ saying, “ask for forgiveness, not permission”? Assuming your moral compass is correct and you’re driving towards your values, never ask if something can be accomplished… instead, set off to accomplish it!

Set solid goals

Remember that goals are a huge way in which we understand our own successes. Set absolute goals, and always have an understanding of how to determine when you’ve achieved them.

Accept help gracefully

Most successful people are great at accepting things from others. They do it readily and happily, and attempt to give help in their strongest moments. Don’t be scared to ask for or accept help from others.

Be flexible

There are usually multiple paths en route to completing a goal. Remember to keep yourself open to new paths, and take advantage of surprise opportunities that come your way.

That’s it. Don’t worry… you’ve got this. 🙂

Have an opinion or story? I’d love to hear it in the comments!




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Posted in