Everyone wants to be successful, don't they?
What do successful people all have in common? There isn't one simple element of success, but successful individuals all have one thing in common— they stick with their long-term goals.
Despite it being difficult, they keep showing up with passion and perseverance. They don't allow themselves to get distracted easily by new ideas or projects.
Successful people have grit, and they are doers.
According to several studies, grit is one of the best predictors of someone's ability to experience success — even more so than the stereotypical IQ test or general conscientiousness.
The Science of Grit | A Case study of Cadets at West Point
In a longitudinal study published in 2019 that followed more than 11,000 cadets in nine West Point military academy classes, researchers looked at cognitive ability, physical ability, and grit to try and accurately measure a cadet's likelihood of success.
In the study, the scientists analyzed grades, graduation within four years, and the completion of the cadets' initiation training, known as the "beast barracks," — which is an intensive six-week training course described by most as the most physically and emotionally demanding part of all four years at West Point.
Unsurprisingly, researchers noticed that cognitive ability was a huge factor in predicting successful grades. Still, grit was by far the most influential marker for making it through the Beast Barracks.
Cadets with a standard deviation higher in grit than their peers had a 54% greater likelihood of making it through their four years to graduation. So at least when it comes to West Point graduation statistics — grit is one of the most critical factors for success.
Let this year be the year when you stop talking and instead — start doing.
Exhibiting grit is about putting perseverance and passion toward your long-term personal goals.
5 Ways to Grow Your Grit
Don't feel like you need to be gritty? Don't worry! You can really reach your potential and grow your grit in the following five ways:
- Find something you're interested in. The first step in gaining more grit is trying different things until you come across something you are passionate about. Once you've found something you are interested in, finding a coach, mentor, or role model can help you practice and improve. Just be willing to try!
- Surround yourself with gritty people. Studies have shown that the people we choose to spend time with substantially impact our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Choose to spend time with people who are gritty and whose values and lifestyles you find admiring and inspiring. Choose positive peer pressure — it's one of the best ways to help grow your grit!
- Practice. Once you've found something you're passionate about, you need to put in the work to get a little better at it every day and compete with who you were yesterday. Just think — you don't just go out and run a marathon. You slowly run more every day until you build up your stamina. Plus, it's not about achieving perfection when you're passionate about something. It's just about improving no matter where you are.
- Believe. Scientists have shown you — at any age— have the ability to positively change your brain and learn new skills throughout your life. If you want to attain the goals you've set, you need to have hope and belief. Limiting beliefs about your abilities being fixed and not being able to change who you are does not help build grit —in fact, it does the opposite.
- Find a higher purpose. Researchers have found people are more fulfilled in their work when they feel connected to a higher purpose. The mystery, after all, of human existence is not just about staying alive but also finding something to live for.
The bottom line: Grit is one of many elements of your character you can grow.
Do you have the ability to stick to long-term goals and keep going despite facing adversity? Then chances are, you are a gritty person!
Grit is an essential element of success, but researchers all agree that there's more to learn about the various aspects outside of grit that might lead to higher achievement.
Suppose you want to try and lead a healthy, happy, helpful life. In that case, you want to cultivate many elements of your character — such as kindness, generosity, curiosity, honesty, and grit.
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- Calvert, H., Barcelona, J., Melville, D., & Turner, L. (2019). Effects of acute physical activity on NIH toolbox-measured cognitive functions among children in authentic education settings. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 17, 100293. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mhpa.2019.100293
- Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087–1101. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2067
- Duckworth, A. L., Quirk, A., Gallop, R., Hoyle, R. H., Kelly, D. R., & Matthews, M. D. (2019). Cognitive and noncognitive predictors of success. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(47), 23499–23504. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1910510116