When it comes to the goals you most want to achieve in your career, do you have the passion and perseverance to create the kind of success you're longing for? Perhaps you're hoping to land the job of your dreams, be recognized as a leader in your chosen field, or just be able to show up each day in ways that bring you meaning and happiness.
Researchers have found when it comes to successfully achieving our long-term goals, there's one quality that distinguishes world-class performers. That quality is grit.
"Gritty individuals approach the journey to mastery like a marathon rather than a sprint and this fuels their stamina to practice their talents over and over and over again," explained Associate Professor Angela Duckworth when I recently interviewed her.
Angela defines grit as the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals. It entails working consistently toward challenges and being able to maintain interest and effort over the years despite failures, set backs and plateaus in progress.
Whereas most of us take disappointment or boredom as signals that it's time to change our approach and cut our losses, people with grit take these signs as the moment when they need to stick with it and truly show up. Her research has established the predictive power of grit, over and beyond measure of talent, for objectively measured success outcomes.
While much is still being learned about grit, Angela suggests four things you can do to improve your levels of grit:
- Be Meaningfully Interested - Make sure your long-term goal is set around something that is interesting and meaningful to you. The magic of grit occurs only when you have both. For example, you might be interested in ice-cream but do you really find it meaningful and want to be gritty in your pursuit of it? Professor William Damon at Stanford University has found that when we find something personally interesting and it's meaningful to the world beyond ourselves, we're able to connect passion with action that provides a sense of purpose and energy that prevents burnout and promotes resiliency.
As Woody Allen once noted: "Eighty percent of success in life is showing up." And while Angela suggests there is nothing magic about the number 80 percent, she does agree that for many endeavors if you can just persist and keep showing up this overcomes most of the challenges we face on the way to reaching our goals.
You can test your levels of grit in Angela's research lab at https://sites.sas.upenn.edu/duckworth.