Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about “grit.” Anyone else notice that you can’t scroll through your LinkedIn news feed without seeing an article on the topic these days?
I’ve seen several different words used to describe this perceived problem – lack of zeal, perseverance, hard work, resilience, amount of effort, skill, etc. These observations have left me wondering if grit was something you naturally have, or something that is nurtured through personal focus on building grit and experiencing gritty environments.
Wanting to more concretely define grit, I gravitated to Angela Duckworth’s work. In her book and TED Talk, she says grit has two components – passion and perseverance. Specifically, she points out that grit is more about stamina than intensity and means you are committed consistently over time. She discusses the double impact that effort has on skill development and achievement:
Talent x Effort = Skill => Skill x Effort = Achievement
This resonated with me. People are born with talents naturally, but it’s how they develop them that matters—or how gritty they are. Michael Jordan was born naturally talented at basketball, but he wouldn’t have reached superstardom had he not consistently worked on developing and building upon his natural ability. I worked hard in college and loved getting my engineering degree, however, something else sounded more interesting—a career in consulting. Making this choice forced me to take the skills I had gained and figure out how to apply them in new and different ways. I was learning every day, gaining focus on what I truly enjoyed, and–while I didn’t know the word yet–practicing my grit!