When I was younger, Grit was something  people around me talked about more than they do now. There were men and women in my small South-Texas town who were known to have “grit.” My grandfather and my Dad, really all my male relatives, would exhort me to “quit yer whinin’ and grow some grit.” We watched the John Wayne movie, “True Grit” and idolized his depiction of tough, Western sticktoitiveness.

Whatever the current word or term is today, Grit is a good thing to have. To get anything big or intimidating done, you gotta have some Grit.

As a personal trainer who is in the gym five days a week, over twelve hours a day, I run up against the lack of grit all the time. Outside of sports, mainstream and urban society has swung away from the ideas of sacrifice, especially when the alternative is the pleasure and ease of sitting on a couch streaming Netflix and eating Doritos.

I see people come in month after month, making little to no progress toward their fitness goals because they lack grit and will not stand up to the nagging in the back of their head for more Doritos, a quart of ice-cream, or a quick trip to Pizza Hut.

Exercise isn’t the best answer to their problem, but they do need to have the drive to intensify their workouts. They say, “I don’t want to work that hard,” and tool lazily along on an elliptical machine, thumbing through pages of People Magazine, which might burn through the calories in a Big Mac before it rusts away from under them, but it’s not likely.

Working hard is the clearest path to success–even more than talent. Michael Jordan says, “I’ve always believed, that if you put in the work, the results will come.” Even in a field outside the fitness realm, Colin Powell, former Secretary of State, says, ” A dream doesn’t become reality through magic, it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” These are the components of grit.

What Powell says about dreams not coming about by magic, is an important statement. In there is the secret to improving your life in general and your Grit.

Talent and genius are seen as something one is “magically” born with. You either have it or you don’t. And to an extent–that’s true, but both talent and genius can be improved upon, no matter where you’re at on the scale now. You may not be the smartest person, but with work and practice, you can get smarter.

Grit scholar, Angela Duckworth is a MacArthur “genius” grant winner and author of the book, Grit.  In her book she outlines how to build grit, and one of the most important elements is a growth mindset, which basically means a person believes she can build and strengthen traits like intelligence, talent, and grit that traditionally have been seen as static. Without that belief–no one tries to get better.

So, with a growth mindset, a woman can build her determination and perseverance to get gritty and as tough as a gymnasts’s hands–regardless of how much she possesses them now. By getting to work, she builds a better self.

woman on rings
A woman can build her determination and perseverance to get gritty and as tough as a gymnasts’s hands–

So when you’re faced with troubles, a new, long-term project, a new career, twenty pounds to lose, or the birth of a child, remember that it is by the resilient power of grit that you wear down the obstacles in your way. Without it–the obstacles wear you down. The barriers you face can be physical or mental, but either way you need more grit than the opposition.



6 thoughts on “GRIT”

  1. In my case, the enemy of GRIT is fear and hopelessness, not laziness or sloth. I wake up every day fighting a lot of negative self-talk which I often mask with self-deprecation.

    1. First–thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate it!

      Second, I don’t think there’s an easy answer to your fear and hopelessness, but I do have a suggestion. Trust your friends’ and loved ones’ opinions more. I’m certain that their opinions of you and your capabilities are much higher than your own. And in my professional estimation, since someone else’s opinion is more objective, they’re more right than you. : ) So when your version of Howard Stern (that’s who’s in my head and he @$%!! hates me) starts yammering in your head, switch over to the loved one’s channel and listen to what they have to say. I hope their faith in your “grit” will keep you going. Be well, Jennie and remember who thinks highly of you.

    2. Hey Jennie, I feel the very same way. It’s debilitating sometimes. I thought about that as I read the article. I have to fight through it just to move sometimes. It takes grit for me to muster up the determination to overcome the voices in my head. I have found that talking to the voices and telling them “no” and deciding on a different thing to think has helped a lot. I ask “what do I want to be feeling and how do I want to do about this right now?” If I don’t change it, it will never change. I also ask for help from a higher source in lots of different forms, like angels, etc.
      Thank you, Roy for posting! I’ll take all the encouraging words I can get.

      1. Thanks for coming by and commenting, Anne!
        You’re suggestion is a good one. It’s good to consciously take control from those subconscious voices, and I’ve found that gentleness is more effective than anger. A gentle, “No,” is far more effective than an angry rant. I like your idea of questioning how you want to feel. That validates your needs for who you want to be in the moment.
        Again, Thank you so much for coming and for your thoughts. The NAG is supposed to set up another climbing trip this fall, Hopefully you’ll be able to attend. It’d be good to see you again.

    1. Thanks, Tracy! I appreciate you coming by. If you have a chance, check out some of the other tidbits here.

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