Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The truth of grit

| June 4, 2023 1:00 AM

A prominent salesman summed up his success in three simple words: "and then some." He discovered at an early age that most of the difference between average people and top people could be explained in these three simple words, according to Richard Weaver II, a retired professor who taught more than 80,000 students at Indiana University, the University of Massachusetts and Bowling Green State University.

He explained: "The top people did what was expected of them — and then some.

They were thoughtful of others; they were considerate and kind — and then some.

They met their obligations and responsibilities fairly and squarely — and then some.

They were good friends to their friends — and then some.

They could be counted on in an emergency — and then some."

"These three little words," said Weaver, "could transform our society as well as your academic and personal life. It could become a philosophy of life — a way of living."

Weaver is referring to grit, a word that I've been hearing more and more in business and all facets of life. Grit helps you achieve success. Learning comes from struggle and trying things, failing and learning from your mistakes. The more you learn and practice, the easier things get.

Jon Gordon, author and business consultant, wrote: "What is grit? I believe it is driven by love, inspired by vision and purpose. Fueled by optimism and belief. Powered by faith and hope. Revived by resilience. Kept alive by stubbornness. It also includes a desire to prove yourself."

Grit is a combination of character traits. Let's look at some of them:

Perseverance — In business, prospects may seem darkest when, really, they are about to turn. A little more perseverance, a little more effort, and what seemed a hopeless failure may turn into a glorious success. There is no failure except in no longer trying.

Perseverance separates the winners from the losers. Those who persevere understand that luck is something only failures believe in. Perseverance is stamina, not intensity. It is continuous work over a long period of time.

Determination — When you study truly successful people, you'll see that they all saw opportunities, took risks, made plenty of mistakes, but when they were knocked down, they kept getting up … and getting up … and getting up. They owe their success to their willingness to accept change as inevitable, and their welcoming of that challenge.

Determined people possess the stamina and courage to pursue their ambitions despite criticism, ridicule or unfavorable circumstances. In fact, discouragement usually spurs them on to greater things.

Resilience — We've all hit roadblocks and dead ends that can make us think twice about whether our goals are worth our efforts. Discouragement and disappointment cloud our judgment. It's exhausting sometimes trying to figure out how to get past a problem.

So, before negative thoughts lead to negative actions, develop a strategy to clear your head. Train your brain to look for positives. Researchers believe that people who embrace a positive outlook have less stress, an increased sense of well-being, better coping skills and longer life spans. Do whatever it takes to get to that attitude.

Passion — There is no substitute for passion. If you don't have an intense, burning desire for what you are doing, there's no way you'll be able to work the long, hard hours it takes to become successful. Passion is private grit. But it only works if you are good at what you are passionate about.

Surround yourself with people who are passionate about their jobs. You'll catch their passion. You can't be passionate when you feel like it. You must be passionate about your job, product or cause all the time.

Courage — One of the major human virtues is courage — bravery, valor, standing up to danger, guts and nerves all rolled into one. It's easy to be ordinary. Courage is ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

It takes courage to persevere when we are tempted to give up. Trying times are no time to quit trying. One of the greatest challenges in life is doing what people say you can't. When things seem most bleak, you must have the courage to carry on.

Persistence — We've all heard it before, but there really is no substitute for persistence. In fact, persistence is sometimes as important as talent. It must come from within. Giving up is not an option.

As leadership expert Robin Sharma said, "Your 'I-can' is more important than your IQ."

Mackay's Moral: No grit … no growth … no glory.

• • •

Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times bestseller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached through his website,, by emailing or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co., 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.

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