I just finished Angela Duckworth’s Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. For those of you who haven’t read it, the book talks about the combination of passion and persistence—not necessarily genius—that leads to success. I scored a 4.4 on her grit scale, which means that I am grittier than about 85% (one standard deviation above the mean) of the Americans in her sample.
I would agree with that. Why would I agree? Based on evidence and my personal philosophy that I am smack-dab in the middle of the normal distribution (i.e., bell curve) of life.
In some situations, I am in the extremes (i.e., left and right tails of the bell curve). For example, I know that I can walk into any room and sometimes I will be the wealthiest, most attractive, most intelligent, funniest, etc. (right tail), and then I can walk into another room and be the poorest, least attractive, least intelligent, dullest, etc. (left tail). Therefore, I humbly know that when I find myself in any of the tails, taken together, I am in the middle and “average” – and, I am ok with that.
No, I have not suffered through a war-ravaged community, nor did I suffer from childhood hunger, nor have I lost a family member to a drunk driver. I am just a survivor of life and against many odds, I have thrived and survived. I do know that, in terms of the grit construct, I am in the right-hand tail of the normal distribution of people, but by no means am I in the far 1% right.
Admittedly, I will never be a Katie Ledecky with Olympian grit, but I am exceedingly goal-oriented with grit as my driver. Sacrificing and accomplishing goals makes me happy and gives me confidence to swim through life. I recently achieved a personal goal to run 100 miles. Now, that sounds impressive, but I broke it down into smaller manageable goals – 2 miles a day, 5 days a week. My grittiness made me get out of bed every morning at 6am to go to the gym and in 2.5 months, I ran 100 miles! My grittiness created a new habit of running.
In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg states that habits create neurological cravings. These cravings drive routines that yield rewards, which cultivate more cravings. He calls it the habit loop.
I now wake up (i.e., cue to the weekday routine) craving the running reward (i.e., endorphin high) and have to talk myself out of running on the weekends so I can rest.
In business, we use our grittiness to survive and meet strategic goals all the time. When a salesperson gets out of bed after a big loss to go tackle the next prospect, the developer powers through to find a bug in the code, a competitor beats you to the market with a new product are all examples of our grittiness. What if we leveraged our team’s grittiness to create new habits? We could transform our teams to be stronger innovators, deliver better and different results, to collaborate more effectively, to be more accountable, etc. We can do this by setting new, clear goals and creating new habits that are more productive.
How have you used your personal or organizational grittiness to drive new habits? What new habits could you help your team to cultivate?