If Grit Is the Measure of Success for Today, Those of Us in Advertising Must Be the Ultimate Performers

These days, a lot of people have been talking about grit. What it is, why it's good, and how to get it. The news is filled with stories of personal achievement driven by sheer determination and the will to win. Angela Duckworth's Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance argues that grit is often a more effective attribute in achieving goals than talent or IQ. And she cites plenty of examples of individuals who demonstrate that grit, a learned trait, does typically trump natural talent.

Lucky for those of us in advertising, our industry is full of grit - a combination of perseverance, courage and strength.

Perseverance is essential because it's sometimes easy to forget in the world of constant pitches and a "what have you done for me lately" mentality that our business is about the long game. Turnarounds don't happen overnight; they take staying the course, constant pushing and digging in, even when others think you can't succeed (make that especially when they think you can't succeed!).

Courage is critical because our jobs are hard - and if we don't have the courage to push the work to be better, make work we can be proud of and create work that makes a difference, then chances are we won't. There's a lot of gravity pulling the work down, and lots of roadblocks that are constantly being put up. Courage is the ingredient that helps us overcome these. Our ability to manage fear, and even embrace it with a brave face, will help us triumph in the end.

Strength is also important. One side effect of stressful environments is that they can sometimes bring out resilience in people. Strength means having resolve and belief in our teams, our point of view, our sense of purpose and in our abilities - and not wavering. It's about having a sense of purpose and a long-term view, and the commitment to follow through. And it's often about pushing through that long night when you're tired and seemingly out of ideas - until it all comes together in that magical way that makes grit a catalyst for brilliance.

If you love this business, you likely have and embrace these qualities - and they seem to be even more important these days in this world of confusion, anxiety (see my last blog post) and loss of control. Especially in a world that now celebrates failing and learning from those failures, individuals who exhibit grit have a better chance of maintaining their determination and motivation over time.

The great thing about grit is that anyone can get it. Grit is egalitarian in that it is learned rather than predetermined. And stories of people with grit are all around us - we can learn from these and use them to inspire others. We can also teach people to be accountable - which drives a sense of empowerment (a key ingredient in being courageous, strong and having perseverance). We can help control the stress of our environment with an optimistic perspective - to allow people to cope with difficult situations.

We should be excited to be in an industry that enables us to embody the characteristics of grit - which we can learn from every day. And the more effective we are at expressing and living a culture that includes grit, the better the chances we will have of achieving success.