3 Things You Need to Know about Perseverance and Grit
Do you have a "gritty" personality? Will you persevere through tough times? Read on for 3 tips to lead with grit, no matter what.
Grit. Resilience. Perseverance. GRIT is defined as “perseverance and passion” for long-term goals, and as having Guts, Resilience, Initiative, and Tenacity. Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties,” while perseverance is defined as “the capacity to keep going in the face of obstacles, especially when others would wear down or give up.”
These and other similar terms are talked about more and more in the business and psychology domains because leaders increasingly operate in a “VUCA” (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world where unexpected obstacles seem to be the rule, not the exception. Recent research on grit suggests that, all else being equal, it can help take high-potential individuals from good to prolific. Everyone gets knocked down – it is the persevering leader who continues to press on and succeed, even in the face of defeat.
So are some people simply destined for greatness because they are “grittier?”
YES. Our research at Leadership Worth Following, LLC shows that perseverance is highly related to traits like conscientiousness, drive, and flexibility, three personality characteristics that are very stable over time and likely genetic to some extent. People with this personality profile are naturally predisposed to live life with more perseverance, and as a result, they tend to succeed more over time.
NO. This research also suggests that perseverance is only about 10-20% driven by personality. In other words, people can persevere even if they are not naturally “gritty.” Here are a few tips for persevering, regardless of your personality:
1. Brain Hacks. There are a number of ways you can trick your brain into feeling more resilient. Choosing to maintain confident body language will trick your brain into thinking you are confident, resilient, and able to overcome challenges. Mental exercises like “cognitive reappraisal” can help you dial back the negative thoughts that often undermine resilience and perseverance. Also, obsessing over the future has been linked to low resilience, so try mindfulness or meditation tactics to help you “be present” and think more in the moment.
2. Have a plan and Celebrate Success. Being resilient in the face of complexity and uncertainty can seem daunting, especially when challenges keep piling up. However, much of grit and resilience is about having the confidence that you can overcome challenges and figure them out as they come. To build this confidence, break your challenges down into smaller, more manageable pieces, and celebrate successes as you go. Taking the time to acknowledge the small wins will gradually boost your confidence, and in turn, your resilience.
3. Don’t go it alone. This one may seem obvious, but much of our ability to persevere and stay resilient depends on the network of individuals we have to support us. Isolation destroys resilience. So, make it a point to build your network of relationships who will be there to support and encourage you when you have to persevere through tough stuff.
PRO TIP: Make sure you have a diverse network that gives you access to a variety of different resources. Research shows that only connecting to like-minded people can actually hurt resilience. Makes sense, right? If you’re struggling to overcome something, why would someone exactly like you be able to help you overcome that challenge?