If you talk to successful venture capitalists and ask them to identify a trait that sets entrepreneurs apart, why one startup succeeds and 99 others fail, they will invariably cite an entrepreneur’s courage. We’ve all heard stories of entrepreneurs who have had grit, but maybe we just don’t know who they are and don’t really recognize grit as a difference maker. This quote is from a startup founder who was turned down over 300 times trying to get the funding for his entertainment startup.
“The difference between winning and losing is usually not giving up.” Walter Disney.
Grit isn’t just a buzzword, nor is it just a sign of mental toughness. Psychological studies show that people with perseverance are more likely to pursue an entrepreneurial path in their lives. Grit also fuels passion, keeping entrepreneurs up at night or working long hours. Many entrepreneurs have both passion and guts. The latter allows them to overcome obstacles instead of giving up or changing tasks. And the first keeps entrepreneurs emotionally engaged. Indeed, one Columbia Business School study indicates ‘that passion is an important ingredient of guts.’ Like some personality traits of an entrepreneur, persistence and passion are predictors of future success.
Dr. Angela Duckworth, a University of Pennsylvania professor and co-founder, chief scientist and board member of Character Lab, pioneered grit research and said it takes persistence and passion. In addition, research has been published in Boundaries in psychology suggests that ‘the continued interest in important long-term goals [is] a core characteristic of grit.’ And if you combine guts with a growth mindset, that’s a powerful combination.
The good news? Both persistence and a growth mindset can be cultivated. You aren’t necessarily born with determination, and many people grow up with a fixed mindset, meaning failure is something to avoid. Still, you can train your brain to try again and try to innovate, even when failure seems almost inevitable. A growth mindset means discovering that there is a small space between failure and success. And in that space, grit is what helps you persevere.
Here are some insights on how to improve your grit:
Design your trip on purpose: It takes guts to get where you’re going, even if it relates to your life purpose. For example, become a data analytics driven marketer to one day become an entrepreneur who launches a data analytics startup that might allow you to write a future marketing book that creates an opportunity to teach on a college campus where you can influence young minds .
Improve your daily performance: Deliberate practice trains your mind to focus on improving specific weaknesses and strengths. Set a daily goal, measure your progress, and work towards it until it’s done.
Conscious practice: People who are gritty just spend more time doing what they do. MUCH MORE TIME for core tasks. They also practice intentionally, meaning their practice helps them get better over time.
Never stop learning: Grit does not depend on mere wishes. The more you learn and develop your expertise, the more confidence you gain in yourself. The more self-confidence you have, the more strength you need to achieve your goals.
Deal with grim people: The culture we live in and identify with powerfully shapes just about every aspect of our being. If you want to be grittier, look inside or outside your network to create a gritty subset of people who can meet regularly and support each other, even if it’s 5am on a group run.
Make the call: Commit to making decisions when you find yourself in a difficult situation. There is no room for slack actions. Do your analysis, rely on the advice of an advisor or mentor, and then make the decision.
Lose the Negative Self-Talk: Trust that you know yourself better than anyone else, and that you have the intelligence and strength to make candid decisions. You can solve problems as they arise. Throw away all negativity and talk to yourself in a positive way every day.