EXPOSE | True Grit is Where Few People Go
“Developing grit is all about habitually doing the things that no one else is willing to do.” – Travis Bradberry
EXPLORE | Understand That True Grit Should Be Familiar
True grit. John Wayne, right?
“Baby sister, I was born game and I plan to go out that way.” – Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) from True Grit
That about sums up how the Merriam-Webster dictionary describes grit: “firmness of mind or spirit : unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.” It can make you a beloved hero, or, when misdirected, a hated villain.
Travis Bradberry’s article on grit highlights the work of Angela Lee Duckworth. As a seventh grade school teacher, she began noticing the ‘extra something’ some students had that allowed them to outperform their peers. She left her teaching career to pursue graduate work focusing on that ‘extra something’. Angela discovered that the majority of successful people all shared one critical characteristic: grit.
“Grit is… the passion, perseverance, and stamina that we must channel in order to stick with our dreams until they become a reality.” – Travis Bradberry
I think it fair to consider using a ‘grit meter’ to help us look inward and appropriately evaluate neglected or underdeveloped areas or characteristics in our lives.
Not surprisingly, this list should seem very familiar. Indeed, to someone seeking The Right Life, this list may not even be news. And we’ll see this more in True Grit. Being Wise is Tough Business – Part 2.
So why would I ask you to spend any time with it? Well, here are 4 reasons:
First, it is reminder that God is the source and originator of what it is to be successful, and, enabler of the necessary qualities therein.
Second, it provides us a look at the current mindset of those seeking success, and provides a way to build a bridge from these characteristics to the true source of real change and success.
Third, it reinforces that there truly is nothing new under the sun. The world is taken by the outcome of a life marked by biblical wisdom, but wants nothing to do with the Source of all that is right and good. Such is the pursuit of man.
Lastly, it does serve as a good checklist for understanding that ‘extra something’, and the connection to their source (i.e. this is where it should seem familiar).
EXECUTE | Getting ‘Gritty’ With It
In Part 1, we’ll take a look at Bradberry’s suggested ‘grit list’ not so much as a means to make your dreams come true, but as a context for reflection and adjustment, and to see how they actually spring forth from what could more appropriately call ‘True Grit’.
“You have to make mistakes, look like an idiot, and try again, without even flinching. The most successful entrepreneurs put no time or energy into stressing about their failures as they see failure as a small and necessary step in the process of reaching their goals.”
True Grit: More than just accepting failure, the characteristic of humility is probably the basis on which we should build. I heard Chuck Swindoll talk about being in the place of having “nothing to lose and nothing to prove”, which I think is so freeing. Humility also puts us in the proper position to receive God’s grace (1 Peter 5:5b) and keep from getting in His way.
“You have to fight when you already feel defeated. If you quit when things get tough, it gets that much easier to quit the next time. On the other hand, if you force yourself to push through it, the grit begins to grow in you.”
True Grit: When you consider who we are working for (Col. 3:23-24), that in spite of the opposition Paul is able to say “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14), and then points out to Timothy that he has “fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7), pressing on is not optional. There is too much at stake. A part from the matter or circumstance in front of us, we need to keep in view the long-term impact God may be intending by our persevering.
“You have to make the calls you’re afraid to make. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do because we know they’re for the best in the long-run… every moment spent dreading the task subtracts time and energy from actually getting it done.”
True Grit: Speaking the truth in love is part of how we ‘grow up’ (Eph. 4:15). And both are necessary. The truth, spoken in love. That combination, exercised consistently, not only means steady growth, but that the truth is more likely to be heard. Lies spoken in love are worthless. Truth spoken harshly is also worthless.
“You have to keep your emotions in check. Negative emotions will challenge your grit every step of the way. While it’s impossible not to feel your emotions, it’s completely under your power to manage them effectively and to keep yourself in a position of control.”
True Grit: I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything good come from someone losing it. There may be temporary compliance, but in the long run is does more damage than good. Our anger does not bring about the righteousness God desires (Jam. 1:20)–and that we should ultimately desire too.
“You have to trust your gut. There’s a fine line between trusting your gut and being impulsive. Trusting your gut is a matter of looking at decisions from every possible angle, and when the facts don’t present a clear alternative, you believe in your ability to choose.”
True Grit: So long as your gut is well informed, and under the right influence. Developing biblical wisdom should mean that when facing a challenge, it is the way that we consistently, even instinctively, respond. What that looks like in practice is what Solomon commands in Proverbs 3:5-6: trust in the Lord, and don’t lean on your understanding. God will guide the gut.
“You have to give more than you get in return.”
True Grit: I’m leaving off Travis’ explanation on this one, because I don’t think his point was well supported. However, I do agree with his point. Jesus said it was ‘more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) We do far better to ourselves, for ourselves, by giving and not being concerned about receiving.
“You have to lead when no one else follows. It’s easy to set a direction and believe in yourself when you have support, but the true test of grit is how well you maintain your resolve when nobody else believes in what you’re doing.”
True Grit: “Though none go with me… still I will follow… (I Have Decided to Follow Jesus)” That is how it is when we follow Jesus. Not only in regards to our faith, but also as leaders at work. The right thing, is the right thing. And that needs to be done regardless of whether or not others are on board.
“You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that exceed expectations. Successful people find a way to say yes and still honor their existing commitments.”
True Grit: This sounds a little ‘hype-y.’ And, there will be times when we need to say “no”. But the spirit of ‘finding a way to say yes’ is a beneficial response. It can keep us from becoming the ‘King of No’, urging us toward finding a possible solution and away from too immediately answering with why we can’t or shouldn’t do it.
“You have to focus on the details even when it makes your mind numb. Nothing tests your grit like mind-numbing details, especially when you’re tired.”
True Grit: We certainly can’t ignore the details, so the question is more of how concerned we should be with what details? I think this comes down to priorities (Matt. 6:33). It should keep us from being focused on details we should otherwise ignore. And getting into the right details is about about thorough. Finish the job. Know what you need to know.
“You have to be kind to people who have been rude to you. When people treat you poorly, it’s tempting to stoop to their level and return the favor. People with grit don’t allow others to walk all over them, but that doesn’t mean they’re rude to them, either.”
True Grit: Turn the other cheek anyone? Accepting the world we live in, it isn’t just kindness, but true forgiveness that is most necessary. This will keep the conversation after the conversation pure. Maybe you’re able to put on the smiley face in the initial conversation, but true forgiveness will not allow negative gossip to enter the conversation you later have with colleagues.
“You have to be accountable for your actions, no matter what. People are far more likely to remember how you dealt with a problem than they are how you created it in the first place. By holding yourself accountable, even when making excuses is an option, you show that you care about results more than your image or ego.”
True Grit: There really isn’t any choice. One way or another, we’re all are accountable for our actions. But not to turn a blind eye to the attitudes of the heart. That is where accountability begins. What is the heart motivation, and its subsequent expression?
True grit. Being wise is tough business. It requires a consistent, thorough examination of the heart, and a Pauline-like perseverance to serve God and others with excellence.
Next post will be go deeper into Duckworth’s findings about the 5 characteristics of grit.
[Original article: 11 signs you have the grit you need to succeed]