Many people launch into the world of entrepreneurship despite its many uncertainties. Often they have no idea if they are fit to be entrepreneurs. The brave idea of the adage “Come in and face!” it’s too risky for this kind of endeavor. A lot will be at stake if it is not executed well: time, money and reputation. It’s not like learning to swim or play the guitar, where you can just stop doing it and say, “It’s not for me.” The field of entrepreneurship is complex. It is very important that all budding entrepreneurs are aware of the challenges and opportunities that it brings. However, the act of jumping up and down is actually a remarkable virtue. If combined with perseverance over a long period, it is an essential ingredient in being courageous.
What is Grit?
The term “Grit” may be new to some of us, but it has been around for a while. It was tabloid with the classic 1960s movie “True Grit,” based on a novel by Charles Portis. The story revolves around a teenage tomboy, Mattie Ross (Kim Darby), who hires a tough United States quarterback, Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn (John Wayne), to avenge her father’s death. She hired Rooster because she has “Courage” and a reputation for getting things done.
According to Merriam-Webster:
: firmness of mind or spirit
: unwavering courage in the face of difficulties or danger
According to Dr. Duckworth:
Sand it is “Passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.“
The resistance to work on things in a constant direction with great effort for a long time. Grit is constantly working on his long-term goals. And working hard to make that future come true.
A bold individual defined:
An individual who is driven to work bravely and tirelessly amid adversity, challenges, and failures to achieve their desired goals. This individual tends to perform better than others who lack stamina.
Passion: (noun) a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement about something
Perseverance: (noun) steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
Constant persistence in a course of action, a purpose; especially despite difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
Definition of resilience:
Resilience: (noun) the ability to bounce back or adapt to challenges or changes.
The ability to quickly recover from difficulties; tenacity. The ability to bounce back from adversity. It is a precursor to Grit, but it is not exactly the same as Grit.
Resilience is one thing you need to be brave, but not the only thing. You also need the passion. Something that you really committed to working on for the long term.
Setting a long-term goal may not be easy. Obstacles will get in the way. You need to figure out how to handle and deal with them. You need to keep working to achieve your goal. That’s what resilience is all about.
Duckworth and his colleagues conducted a series of studies that found that people with Grit:
He reached a higher level of education.
Earned a higher GPA.
They were more likely to graduate from high school.
– Dr. Angela Duckworth et al. (2007,2014)
Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania
Grit vs. Talent
How do we build determination in entrepreneurs? Are sustained efforts and perseverance more important than sheer talent?
According to Dr. Duckworth, for many outcomes, such as graduating from West Point (US Military Academy), Grit is more predictive of success than IQ or SAT scores. In a culture where we praise talent all the time, winning is not enough. However, we do not undermine talent because talent exists. The important thing is to highlight the undervalued role of effort, practice and time spent on tasks that determine final performance.
Talent will not make you brave. There are talented people who do not meet their commitments. In fact, the data shows that Grit is unrelated or even inversely related to talent measures.
How do we teach Grit?
Entrepreneurs gain value from having a “growth mindset,” an idea developed by Dr. Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University. He wrote a book entitled: “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” It is the belief that learning is not fixed. That learning can change with effort. Dr. Dweck argues that everyone can get smarter by working at it. While a fixed mindset individual is those who fear failure, a growth mindset, on the other hand, believes that learning comes from failure.
Other experts say that you can teach Grit in schools. There is a term they use in character education called “Productive Struggle.” The process is as follows: Teachers give students difficult tasks to solve. They watch, analyze, and wait as students struggle to find solutions to the problem. When the time is right, teachers step in, discuss the issue, and solve the problem together.
On the other hand, parents have their part in this. There are ways that children are molded to become braver. It’s called “Framing Children’s Experiences.” Remember when a little boy runs down the hall and falls? The first thing he does is look at you and check your reaction. When you scream or he sees you scared, he starts crying. But when you smile and say, you’re fine. Instantly he stands up and continues walking. This method works in very powerful ways.
Did you live, love, did you care?
– Brendon Burchard,
New York Times, bestselling author of “The Charge”
Burchard said they would ask you three things on your deathbed: Did you live fully and vibrantly? Did you love openly, honestly and completely? Did you contribute something useful to society?
Courage is an essential virtue for every entrepreneur. These questions play a very important role at least for the latter: to be useful. The idea of being brave to learn new things, master them and share what you have learned with others. These are disciplines that will drive entrepreneurs to succeed in whatever they choose to do in life.