What enables a person to be a great performer? What differentiates an Olympian from a everyday athlete?
Angela Duckworth’s extensive research into this question led to her to a conclusion. In her best-selling book entitled, GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, she stated that “grit” makes the difference.
Grit is possessed by Olympians and great achievers, Duckworth noted. She defined grit to be:
Grit = Passion + Perseverance
And when grit is combined with talent, the results are golden.
The only way out is through
According to Duckworth, “…there are no shortcuts to excellence. Developing real expertise, figuring out really hard problems, it all takes time―longer than most people imagine….you’ve got to apply those skills and produce goods or services that are valuable to people….Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it…it’s doing what you love, but not just falling in love―staying in love.”
I will assert that this same concept also applies to organizations. The question is, does your organization have grit? Does your team have what it takes to be excellent?
Let’s talk about passion. As an individual, passion is defined to be an object, a feeling, an idea, a goal, or an aspiration that we love. It’s the northern light that gives us something to aim toward.
For an organization, it’s the collective belief of the group. It is what an organization believes it exists to do. This can be something as a grandiose as “eliminating the world of cancer,” or can be as simple as “building the perfect pair of running shoes.”
Do what you love
While the above examples are great, I would argue that the most important passion for many organizations in today’s market is to deliver the perfect customer experience. Ensuring that everyone in the organizations believes in this goal and has an emotional tie to it is key.
The goal has to be strong enough that it gives individuals and teams the drive to do whatever it takes to achieve it. Only then can it be called “passion.”
Perseverance is the second ingredient of grit, and is the character of an organization.
Some key questions to consider:
- Are team members willing to work hard to achieve their goals, and have the goals been clearly communicated to them?
- Does the organization have a culture that promotes and rewards perseverance at individual and team levels?
- Does the organization encourage and invest for long-term goals?
- Does the organization encourage failures?
Perseverance is about the willingness to put in the hard work over a long period of time in order to get better or to get closer to your goal (passion).
For example, if “delivering great customer experience” is your passion, is your organization willing to tackle this challenge? No organization will be able to deliver great customer experience overnight. It takes hard work, day in day out, month after month, and attempt after attempt to get there. This is organizational perseverance.
Grit is the main difference between outstanding performers and the rest, concluded Angela Duckworth. But unlike talent, grit can be learned and developed. What you need is the know-how and tools to help you gain that competitive advantage.