Learning for success has two dimensions. The first is personal energy and passion. The second is an ability to demonstrate a growth mindset. Psychologists call this virtuous combination grit.
They have found that grit is a better predictor of long-term personal, educational, and leadership success than intellect (IQ), emotion (EQ), or sociability (SQ).
Here’s five ways to enhance your grit. Some of these grit-enhancers come from research, some from personal experience, and some from observations. For the full ten, you’ll have to wait for the September issue of Dialogue!
1. Set realistic expectations. Sometimes, we try to achieve that which is unachievable. Grit needs to be directed with realistic expectations. Don’t run up sand dunes or chase dreams that are not within the realm of possibility.
2. Take a risk. Challenge yourself to do new things. Doing what we have always done will get us what we have always got. Habits and routines are 70% to 80% of our lives, but experimenting with new routines allows us to grow. While change is not always easy, it is helpful to embrace change and see change as opportunity not threat.
3. Persist in the face of setbacks. When trying something new, it often won’t work. New recipes aren’t easy and may not taste so great; new lectures fall flat; new clothes are often uncomfortable; it is hard to find desired items in new stores; new cities are often hard to navigate. When there is a mistake or when something goes wrong, it is very easy to blame and rationalize. It is more important to face the mistake, to face it, to run into them and honestly evaluate what worked and what did not work.
4. Relish success – share credit – focus on why. While we can learn from failures, we can also relish success and figure out what did work. Take the Velcro and Teflon test: great leaders take more than their fair share of blame and less than their fair share of credit. Grit may come from being ‘Velcro’ in failure and taking personal responsibility, not blaming others, then being ‘Teflon’ in success and sharing credit.
5. See effort as the path to mastery. Without effort and hard work, success is a fluke or nearly random event. To create a pattern of long-term learning and growth, we have to have sustained effort. Some of this sustained effort comes from having a passion for the outcome that we want to achieve.