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4 Gritty Traits that Pave the Road to Happiness

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4 Gritty Traits that Pave the Road to Happiness

We must encounter frustration and failure to enjoy success. Wait… what? It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? In today’s business world, mistakes can be costly—both to the organization and to the individual.

There is enormous pressure to deliver the best products, strategies, and solutions. No one wants to be credited with “the idea that tanked.” We earn respect through our victories, not our failures. What is the old saying? “Carve your successes in stone and write your failures in the sand.” 

Our attitude toward failure is essential to success in the real world. Those who can’t effectively embrace and respond to failure are more likely to stay in the safety zone where mediocrity abounds. Angela Duckworth introduced the concept of grit in her 2013 TED talk as the “key to success.” Her first book, Grit, examines the scientific concept that success hinges on the level of a person’s grittiness.

However, beyond success, our level of grittiness also has a direct correlation to our level of happiness and personal satisfaction.

Consider these four gritty traits that have a direct impact on both success and happiness:

 

1. Resilience

Resilience, nurtured through a combination of optimism, creativity, and confidence, is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulty. Life is often messy and complex, and there is no single solution that applies across the board. This means you must plan, prepare, and work toward your vision, but also continually embrace failure and experimentation when the inevitable orange cones of life present an unplanned detour.  When we view these obstacles as opportunities to learn, we can bounce back smarter and stronger,

As Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy point out in their book, Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back, “There are no finish lines and no silver bullets.”  Resilience must be continually refreshed.” Resilience is the difference between those who thrive and those who fall apart in difficult or changing times.

 

2. Courage

A Google search for “fear of failure” will produce over 150 million hits. It’s number 15 on the top 100 phobias list—atychiphobia.  It’s also one of the greatest barriers to success.

Even though we all know we can learn from our mistakes, no one wants to fail. Failure and disappointment come as a package deal, and disappointment doesn’t feel good.  Courage and grit are a package deal, too. It takes courage to overcome the fear of failure. Sometimes the greatest enlightenment comes from defeat. Gritty people aren’t afraid to fail. Rather, they embrace mistakes and recognize that it often takes mistakes to make progress.

“Grit is having the courage to push through, no matter what the obstacles are, because it’s worth it”. – Chris Morris

3. Excellence

People often use the words excellent and perfect synonymously. As it turns out, there is a huge difference. Perfection focuses on destination rather than the journey. Perfectionists view any outcome less than perfect as failure. Many times that perfection is simply their perception of the ideal. They strive for impossible goals and often suffer from chronic unhappiness, clinical depression, and low self-esteem as they constantly chase that illusory prize. Moreover, perfectionists are often described as obsessive, anxious, rigid, and unyielding.

The quest for excellence is motivating and far more forgiving than perfection. Excellence is an attitude that emphasizes progress. Progress implies the process of continual improvement. Tony Schwartz, well-known author and founder of The Energy Project, refers to this as the “growth conflict.”  He says we strive for excellence as we continue to learn, grow, and change while also learning how to accept our own limitations and imperfections.

 

4. Passion

Perhaps the most essential attribute of gritty people is passion. Passion enables us to develop stamina and tenacity toward a greater purpose. It’s this symbiosis that creates meaning from chaos, finds value in effort, and cultivates happiness, personal satisfaction, and the sense that what we do really matters. People who genuinely love their work are motivated by their passion and a greater purpose. They tend to be more satisfied and healthier both psychologically and emotionally. Conversely, people who are unsatisfied with their work are more likely to be dissatisfied with their personal relationships and experience distress in other areas of their lives.

Consider some of the people who epitomize success. Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, Oprah, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Simon Sinek, to name a few, all have demonstrated an unrelenting passion for a greater purpose. Malcolm Gladwell identifies passion as the most important factor for success. He says, “Nothing happens without desire and passion. Without it, nothing else falls in place. It’s very hard to find someone who’s successful and dislikes what they do.”

Marcus Aurelius Happiness

Grit may be the deciding factor between those who just show up and those who get the gold. Beyond that, grit determines how happy they are along the way. Success is not just measured by income, bonuses or the title on a business card.

Those who enjoy a rich, rewarding life understand that the road to happiness is paved with grit. If you want to be successful and happy, you’ll have to get a little gritty.

Thank you for reading my article! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

Dr. Melissa Hughes is the founder and principal of The Andrick Group. She holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and master’s degrees in Instructional Technology and Educational Administration.  Throughout her career, Melissa has taught students from kindergarten through college, authored more than a dozen books, and developed countless instructional materials to improve teaching and learning.  Currently, Dr. Hughes develops and delivers professional development workshops across the country to increase our capacity to learn, unlearn, and relearn for greater professional success and personal satisfaction.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Thomas Stassi

    Jul 16, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Melissa,
    Great article. I am forwarding this to our children as I think this is great food for thought. Although now retired I can use this as motivation in my new volunteer endeavor.
    Tom and Deb

    • Melissa Hughes

      Jul 16, 2015 at 9:39 pm

      So glad you found value in the article, Tom! We all need a bit of inspiration and motivation now and again regardless of our position in life. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Debbie Romanoski

    Jul 15, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    What an inspirational article!!! I’ve printed it off and placed it front and center in my office to be read daily!

    • Melissa Hughes

      Jul 16, 2015 at 1:44 am

      So glad you found it valuable and inspirational, Debbie! Thanks for the comments!

  3. Lauren LeFranc

    Jul 15, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Wonderful article! Thank you for my morning cup of mental caffeine. This article also reminded me of a great saying that says….Experience is what you get when you get what you don’t want.

    • Melissa Hughes

      Jul 16, 2015 at 1:46 am

      “Experience is what you get when you get what you don’t want.” Wow… yes!! So true! Grit enables us to transform those events into learning. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lauren!

  4. Omer Nissani

    Jul 15, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Wow! Just wow! Thanks so much for a great article. Although nothing is new to me you inspired me so much! Thanks a lot Melissa right in spot (-:

  5. Bobbijo Werren

    Jul 15, 2015 at 12:42 am

    I love the concept of using grit to find happiness! Great article.

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Life

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When I was a kid, it seemed like I felt pain more than anyone else around me. Not just physical pain, but emotional pain. I cried easily, over many things. I had an especially hard time when people were fighting around me, and I didn’t even have to be involved. I could feel the negative energy and felt upset and overwhelmed. I didn’t have a constructive way of handling it. (more…)

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We all have a God-given destiny to fulfill that we were each born with. I personally believe it is buried deep down within us. The number one secret to success is to let it emerge out of you and release it to the world. What is my destiny you may ask? It is the thing you would regret not doing before leaving Planet Earth. (more…)

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Don’t Want To Feel Like A Failure Anymore? Stop Doing These 6 Things

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It’s pretty annoying isn’t it? All those great and accomplished people telling you that FAILURE is a necessity on your way to success. Yeah, that’s easy for them to say; they’re already ‘on the other side’! You on the other hand, are still struggling all day everyday to get your business lifted off the ground and are really not that sure if you’re indeed going to make it.

There’s that little voice in your head that keeps telling you that you don’t have the stuff to make it all happen. Not now and not ever. You feel like a failure…it’s holding you back and you don’t know how to deal with it. Well you could do yourself a favor and start dealing with it by doing the following things:

1. Stop Denying You Feel Like A Failure

Telling yourself things are going great when they’re not is one of the biggest, though most useless, coping mechanisms human beings deploy in rough times. Common denial signals among entrepreneurs: trying to regain more control by working even more hours and on the other side compensating this by letting go of all this control by partying and drinking way too hard.

What you’re doing is denying yourself the opportunity to actually feel what’s going on and acknowledge the problem; that both you and your business are in a bad place. Without acknowledging it, it’ll be pretty difficult to actually STOP feeling it. And remember, just because you feel like a failure, this does not mean that you indeed ARE a failure!

2. Stop Making It Bigger Than it Really Is

This is one of those other ‘fun’ things human beings do; we blow things way out of proportion in our heads! In business, when you lose that big client you’ve been working on for weeks, it feels like it’s the end of the world. You start doubting yourself, your strategy, your entire business model right up to the point where you barely sleep because you’re working on pivoting the whole thing.

But what if that customer simply didn’t have the money to go for your service anyway? Or what if they just decided to go for someone who is cheaper but who offers less quality? Does that mean there’s something wrong with YOU? Or that this was the ONLY customer out there and that you’re now doomed forever?

Of course not, it simply means that THIS CUSTOMER wasn’t a match. It’s a bit like dating actually…So if you take this into consideration, could it be that you just feel like a failure instead of really not succeeding in that what you want to at this point in time?

3. Stop Thinking You’re The Only One Who Feels Like This

You’re not! With the possible exception of the true sociopaths, that feeling you’re feeling is very normal to EVERYONE. It might not seem like it on the outside – because people don’t like to acknowledge this remember – but I can guarantee you that it’s true. But unlike 99% of the world’s population, YOU’RE not going to let this feeling stop you in your tracks. Are you?

4. Stop Thinking You’re Supposed To Be Superhuman

In fact, it’s very likely that you’re already doing, learning and succeeding at WAY more than most other people are. But for entrepreneurs, somehow, that never seems to be enough. You don’t just want to be successful after a few years of hard work (which is normal). You want to be successful after only a few months. Because you’re special…or at least you think you are…

Well, here’s the truth: you ARE special! But…it’s just not very likely that you’re one of those – very very rare – entrepreneurial superstars that – seemingly – just added some hot water and got instant business success as a result.

5. Stop Being So Incredibly Stubborn

Entrepreneurs are stubborn…almost by default. It’s what makes them push forward in the hardest of times. But…if you’re not doing the right things right you might just be hammering a square peg through a round hole. Which will only add to that frustrated feeling you’re already having. So why not stop being so stubborn for a moment, stop hammering away on that what obviously is not working and ask for help?

No matter who you ask – a business mentor or coach, a befriended entrepreneur – someone with a neutral perspective on you and our business will be very likely to see what’s going on with a lot more clarity than you can and can guide you to a place that will feel a whole lot more comfortable.

6. Stop Being Afraid Of Failure

I know, I know, you’ve heard this a million times before and you wouldn’t be in this pickle if you could do this. Right? I’m right there with ya!

But, if you get really rational about it, what’s the worst that could happen?

  • You might have to get a ‘real’ job for a while and start over on the side;
  • You might not be able to afford your rent anymore…but with Airbnb on the 1 hand and couchsurfing on the other, you should be able to work it out somehow;
  • You’ll have all the more experience to start over a whole lot faster;
  • You’ll be no less respected by anyone because it’s clear you gave it your all;
  • In a few years, when you’re an established and supersuccessful entrepreneur you’ll also have a cool failure story to tell;
  • None of your limbs will fall off;

Now that’s not too bad for a plan B is it? Failure is such a negative word. And the associated feeling is terrible and numbing. But really…how is giving it your all and not succeeding really the same as failing? Shouldn’t the definition of failure not be along the lines of ‘not even trying’ or ‘giving up when it gets hard’?

In other words: stop beating yourself up over this!

There’s really no need to feel like a failure at all because you’re sticking your neck out, you’re trying to make a difference and you’re still moving upward on that treacherous entrepreneurial mountain.

And that…is what success REALLY is.

Those Who Failed Their Way To Success

Quotes To Live By:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” – Richard Yates

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

“We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie

“Success is stumbling form failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

“Don’t let success go to your head and failure to your heart” – Will Smith

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