Grit – Have You Got It?

By Vusi | 10 March 2014 Blog home

Vickiby By Vicki Oudmayer – Senior Creative Director, Blue Moon

I recently attended a talk by an eminent child psychologist about what motivates pupils to do well at school and later, in their chosen line of work. “What do you think is a key factor in your child’s success?” She hurled the grenade out of nowhere to an audience of round-eyed moms.“42!” I was tempted to shout – but that’s the answer to the universe, so I hung back and waited in the thickening silence…

“Is it perhaps IQ?” she prompted…“intelligence, that enables certain children to excel in no matter how hard the learning?” A few knowing nods (those kids). “Or maybe, just plain talent – the ability to analyse, absorb and retain information well?”Consensus once more. One mother pointed five tentative fingers skywards…. “What about emotional and social intelligence?”  Gold star for her! I thought. I’m rather competitive but I couldn’t trump that. After all, top achievers excel in connecting confidently with others and in of course, in self-promotion.

According to our lecturer, a math teacher-turned-scholar of psychology in achievement, called Angela Duckworth,undertook to research and distill the key ingredient of success.

Duckworth went to West Point Military Academy to study which cadets would not just make it into the programme, but who would stick with it and who would drop out. She went to the National Spelling Bee and tried to predict which children would advance farthest in competition.She partnered with private companies to understand which sales people made the most commission….consistently. In all those contexts,one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. No, it wasn’t social intelligence (take my gold star back). Nor was it IQ or natural talent or physical health.

It was grit.

Grit is the x-factor that drives passion and perseverance for long-term goals. It’s committing to your vision… and working or practicing really hard to make that future a reality. (True, with 10 000 hours of hard practice we can all be big success stories.) Grit means more than resilience in the face of failure, it means having deep commitments to which you remain loyal over many years.

This insight ignited a couple of fireworks for me. Firstly, to build grit, you need a healthy reserve of self-discipline, the desire for self-mastery and a hard work ethic (qualities I need to foster in my children, rather than repeatedly reminding them how clever they are!)  And secondly, that I am surrounded by people who share these inspiring qualities at Blue Moon.

Yes, we pride ourselves on our IQ, EQ and creative talent, but more importantly we are a gritty people – deeply committed to what we do. We put in long hours of hard work and determined practice in getting it right for our clients.  Setbacks do not deter us in our pursuit of Fresh, True and Brave. And we are all passionately in it for the long haul.

Our grit is evidenced in clients we have partnered for over a decade,  in the big number of Blue Mooners who are have been happily engaged here for more than 5 years (I in fact celebrate my 9th anniversary soon)…and in the 25 years of hard work, growth and success that we celebrate together in 2014!

Take the survey here to see if you’ve got grit!