Last set. I feel like hitting the shower and just chill. My muscles already burn like they’re on fire but I got 1 more set to go and then I’m done for today. That last set always kills me. Heartbeat is up. Sweat is pouring and face is all red but I give it all I got!

Every time I go to the gym I encounter that feeling of almost wanting to give up when I try to push myself a bit further. Building perseverance is a core skill for any leader and something every company should focus on embedding in the company culture.

I recently interviewed a CEO of one of the rising fintech startups in South East Asia, who scaled their business in 6 countries during the last 12 months. We discussed how to maintain excellence and ownership once you scale your company regionally. It made me think about how to build GRIT within your leadership team so that everyone treats the company as if it’s their own. The more perseverance, ownership and passion, the stronger the organisation, the better the efficiency, the happier the people and the stronger the numbers.

One of the key ingredients to greatness is GRIT. Grit is also known as passion and perseverance that keeps us going. Stanford researcher Catherine Cox studied 301 eminent historical figures and concluded that:

Persistence beats smart.

“…high but not the highest intelligence, combined with the greatest degree of persistence, will achieve greater eminence than the highest degree of intelligence with somewhat less persistence.” ~ Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The power of passion and perseverance.

5 steps to building more GRIT:

  1. Pursue what interests you. A lot of myths surround this topic and especially millennials like to float around finding ones passion and interests. They start to daydream and ponder hours, days, weeks and years about what they’re passionate about. Wrong! Introspection is not the right path. You need to get out there and try stuff so you really know what’s perfect for you and you don’t just like the idea of doing it but actually doing it with all failures that come along. Finding a mentor is one of the key actions to take on this journey. Having the right mentor is key to turning passion into a skill because interest precedes the development of talent.
  2. Practice. One of the key strengths of Navy Seals is the culture of constant self-improvement. “90% of every post-mission debrief is focusing on what we did wrong or could have done better.” ~ James Waters, Navy Seal. People need 10.000 hours to reach expertise level in any subject. To achieve that you need to practice, practice and practice. Deliberate practice is intense and intentional.
  3. Purpose. GRIT people find purpose in what they do, which makes them significantly more motivated than others. Interest without purpose is not sustainable. Gritty people don’t just have a job, they have a calling. Three bricklayers were asked, “What are you doing?” The first said, “I’m laying bricks”. The second said, “I’m building a church”. The third said, ‘I’m building the house of God”. This is a difference between a job, career and calling.
  4. The best is yet to come. To build gritty people they need to believe and have active hope that the best the is yet to come. Research shows that those lacking hope typically adopt performance goals and choose easy tasks that don’t offer a challenge or opportunity for growth. When they fail, they quit. They act helpless and life always happens to them instead of for them. When people have hope for a better tomorrow, they build a better stamina to keep moving forward during the ups and downs.
  5. Choose a GRITTY inner circle. Peer pressure can be awesome if you use it in the right way. Hang with the right people and it will rub off on you. Over time and under the right circumstances, the norms and values of the group to which we belong become our own. We internalise them. We carry them with us.

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