It’s not a high level of education. It’s not out of this world confidence. It’s not having the perfect body or lots of money. It’s not about high levels of intelligence. So if it’s not any of those things then what is it? What is the most important thing we need to be successful? The secret lies in a tiny four-letter word that Angela Lee Duckworth has termed GRIT.
How many of us have a dream? How many of us have a goal that we really want to achieve? The answer is all of us. And how many of us have allowed our dreams and goals to be buried under a pile of fear and excuses or filed under the category of ‘one day’? Far too many of us.
The reason we haven’t yet achieved the things we want to achieve has absolutely nothing to do with not being capable. That’s just one of those awful stories that the negative voice in our head likes to tell us. No, that’s not it. The reason we haven’t yet achieved the things we want to achieve is simple: we haven’t yet mastered the art of grit.
Duckworth defines grit as having the stamina to stay focused on the vision you have for your life coupled with sustained hard work over the long term. You’ll have your own essential characteristics for developing grit in your life but here are four of my favourites:
If grit is the most important thing a person needs to be successful then how the heck do we go about getting us some of that?! The answer lies in first developing a growth mindset. According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck in her ground breaking book Mindset: How You Can Fulfill Your Potential there are two types of mindsets in this world: one that is orientated towards growth and another that is fixed.
So what’s the difference between the two? Those with a fixed mindset believe that the qualities and traits that they’ve been given cannot be changed. They might believe, for example, that if you’re intelligent you were born that way and if you’re weren’t then there’s not much you can do about it. A person with a fixed mindset might also believe that it is natural talent and not hard work that brings success. In other words, those with a fixed mindset hold a disempowering and limited view of what they are capable of.
People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, believe that they can take what they’ve been given and build on it. They believe that through learning and persistence they can grow their intelligence over time. They believe that with time and effort they can achieve their goals.
Hmmm a life in which you believe a limited range of things are possible or a life in which you believe anything is possible? I know which side of the mindset fence I want to be sitting on!
If grit is the most important thing a person needs to be successful and developing a growth mindset is the start of the road that leads there then one of the first things we need to do is to stop sabotaging ourselves. Most of us have been masters at that game for far too long!
We tell ourselves we’re too old and we’ve run out of time or that we’re too young and too inexperienced. We tell ourselves we’ll do it later when we have more money or when the timing is better. We tell ourselves we’ll do it when we’ve lost weight and feel more confident or when we know more about the thing it is we’re wanting to do. We tell ourselves that we can’t do it because it’s already been done or that we’re not as smart and capable as all the people out there already doing the thing we want to do. We can do it, we only think we can’t.
We are so good at feeding ourselves these excuses that we actually believe our own lies. The reason we don’t pursue our dreams has absolutely ZERO to do with our weight or our intelligence or whether or not we currently have the money and absolutely EVERYTHING to do with fear. We are both petrified that we don’t have what it takes and will somehow fail and we are scared of what other people will think of us if we dare to dream big. There’s that pesky fixed mindset creeping in!
In order to be successful, in order to start on the path to achieving our dreams all we need is a willingness to learn and grow. In the words life coach of Marie Forleo — everything is figureoutable!
If grit is the most important thing a person needs to be successful and a growth mindset is how you develop it then on top of saying sayonara to self-sabotage there’s one more important piece of the puzzle and that’s being able to say a big fat screw it to what the world thinks of you and your dreams.
I used to care a hell of a lot about what people thought of me. I spent my life trying to twist myself into the pretzel I thought other people wanted me to be. Up until recently, I spent ages thinking about how to perfectly construct my words for a blog or social media post so as not to offend someone. I was scared to death of what the world would think of the real me. I was terrified of being judged.
Now I’m starting to say screw it because at the end of the day what does it matter what other people think of you or your dreams? They were given to you; they don’t need to make sense to other people. Chase your dreams, voice your opinions, be yourself. Live boldly like Marmite!