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Grit And Your Life Outcomes

If you want a dictionary definition of grit, here are two: “ courage and resolve; strength of character, ” or “ mental toughness and courage. ”  After the tragic event in Las Vegas, all the concert attendees and fortunate survivors must exhibit grit to go make some sense out of what happened and go ahead with the rest of their lives.   The families and friends of the deceased must have grit to cope with their grief and work toward a sense of closure to go ahead with life.

Grit provides advantages in most sphere of life.  When it comes to success in school or at work, perseverance, or grit, is the overlooked partner to intelligence.  Although IQ is connected to achievement, particularly in complex fields, so is a willingness to persist toward long-term goals.  Thomas Edison tested more than 6,000 different materials for a light bulb filament before finding the one that worked.  This supported his famous quote “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration”.

Grit also predicts success in the military.  About half the candidates for the U.S. Army’s grueling Special Operations training session drop out before the end of the 24-day stint.  Grittiness is a better predictor of completion than fitness or intelligence.

Did you know that “gritty” people are less likely to change their careers frequently?

For that matter, grit can be a stronger predictor of retention than number of years in the job.

Relationships also benefit from grit, but with an interesting gender twist.   In a large study, grit proved to be a better predictor of whether the person was married and would stay married than standard personality traits.   However, this was true only for men.   In women, there was no correlation between grit and marital status.

Personality Explained

Can we build grittiness in ourselves or in our children?  The jury is still out but some researchers believe that cultivating a growth-oriented mind-set is a key to persistence.   People with a fixed mind-set believe their abilities and outcomes are innate and unchangeable.  They might respond to set-backs by thinking “I’m a failure” or “he’ll never let me win”.  Those with a growth mind-set believe that they can learn from their mistakes and do better next time.

For this reason, many psychologists recommend praising children not for their innate intelligence (“You’re so smart”) but for their persistence (“I’m proud of you for working so hard”).