Why do some people succeed and some people fail?
That's certainly a question many of us have pondered. What does it take to be at the top of our game? Do successful people have common traits? Some say yes. Some say no.
Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, associate professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, says highly successful people do share something: GRIT.
Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Angela speak on this topic. What I found most intriguing about her findings was that while talent is important in success, perseverance and passion are more important.
Angela's definition of grit: Perseverance + Passion = GRIT
The basis of Angela's theory applies to many fields, including sports, education and business. As a small business owner, I thought about my own business and what has contributed to its success. I have been fortunate to work with some of the finest and most talented team members I could ask for. We've had our goals and worked diligently to achieve them. But when I look even further, our success is attributed to passion and perseverance.
Failure has not been an option.
What I found even more compelling was Angela's theory that grit isn't something you're born with. You're born with talent, not with passion and perseverance. Grit is something that can be cultivated.
So, how do you cultivate it?
Let's face it: We all know someone who starts a business with the almighty dollar leading decision making. They have an idea and dive in because they think they will make their million. While that may be true, the real success comes to those who truly have an interest in what they are doing. Do you truly love what you do? Do you enjoy going to work every day?
Know the science of deliberate practice.
I played the piano when I was young, and my piano teacher drilled into me, "Practice makes perfect, only when you practice perfectly." I think the same thing applies here. As a business owner, I need to focus on leadership, business development, employee development and financial health. Not all of these come naturally to me as a skill set, but the more I open myself up to learning, elevating and practicing the skill sets for each, the more successful we become.
Those with greater purpose have greater grit. What's your purpose? Do you feel it every day? If you don't, go back to the drawing board. Every day I come into work, I remind myself of the purpose of what I'm doing. It makes every day more intentional—and certainly more fulfilling. I'm not saying every day is sunshine and roses, but there's a reason for the decisions being made.
Change your mind about changing your mind.
We all have our own frame of reference for what does and doesn't work. But what if you simply start asking, "What if?" What if you start asking yourself, "What else can I learn?" World-class experts stay on a learning curve. As business owners, should we do the same?
Cultivating grit isn't always easy. To grow your grit, you need to fail, get feedback, and practice, practice, practice. If you are passionate about your business and are deliberate about what is required for success, grit will grow naturally.
Written by Kasie Smith, president and publisher, Serendipity Media.