Grit is the newest buzz word in the wellness sphere. Hold the phone, it’s one of the hottest buzz words everywhere — it’s infiltrating our media, schools and corporate world. In fact, the practice of cultivating grit is outpacing the research to support whether we can, in fact, cultivate something that is fairly ingrained in our genetic code (whether directly from our momma and poppa, or epigenetically from the environment we grew up in. How cool is it that our culture encodes on our genes?).
So, what’s the big whoop? Why should we seriously contemplate enhancing our grit?
The research tells us that gritty folks are those with passion and ability to persevere. They are clear on their interest and purpose, have hope for the future, and are able to engage in regular and deliberate practice. The belief is that we can cultivate grit through exploring and evolving these aspects of ourselves. But the real beauty of delving into grit is that we come to know what drives us in a big way (not simply our longing for a good cup of coffee), and gaining clarity on this will help you to survive and thrive in today’s fast paced hustle. Better yet, it will help you stand out, soldier on, and do brilliant things for you, your family, and community. This is the ‘why’ behind cultivating your grit, and here is how you can get started.
1. Slow the “F” down.
Yes, grit is about persevering and doing the incredible, but you can’t do anything of merit if you have limited to no clarity on what ignites your soul. Gritty people know what they’re about and they’ve likely come to understand this by spending some time with themselves. Spend some time tuning in to your surroundings and eventually, to the internal chatter and sensations in your physical body. There is a plethora of free guided meditations on YouTube; go and try until you find one you like. Personally, I recommend a Loving Kindness meditation.
2. Figure Out Your Interests.
Ask yourself, “What do I like thinking about?” or “When do I lose track of time?” or “What gets me out of bed?” and “Who do I aspire to?” Spending time exploring these answers will highlight some of your interests and possibly, insight into your purpose. With more insight, you can start to carve out your personal manifesto (a.k.a. your life’s mission statement; the gritty are very clear on their manifesto, as I’ve coined it).
3. Practice Makes Perfect.
Be honest about what you’re willing to stick with. Having a fleeting interest is one thing. Having an interest that is tied to a greater purpose that you’re willing to delve into and spend a lot of time with, that’s a big deal. Deliberate practice isn’t always pleasant. In fact, research suggests it can be downright painful. Flow state is a lovely reward for endless hours spent sitting on the hard-ass piano bench, but it doesn’t happen right away or even 4,000 hours in (you’ve likely heard about the 10,000 hours of practice needed to reach expert status). Deliberate practice is setting micro goal after micro goal, practicing, getting immediate feedback, revising, rehearsing, and then setting another micro goal. It’s an ongoing evolution process – something we are all capable of, but very few actually do.
4. Challenge Your Mindset.
What labels have you or someone else attached to you? Here are just a few: smart, athletic, talented, bad at math, shy, lazy, impatient, emotional…you get the picture. We move through life and pick up labels at different life junctures. Friends, teachers, coaches, siblings, co-workers and parents may try to attach something to us that isn’t true, but we accept it as our reality and create a narrative to support it. We wear this label as our own (and we’re pretty good at creating our own along the way). Research on mindset outlines two predominant mindsets: fixed versus growth. If we ascribe labels to ourselves, we can remain fixed in spot, limiting our mobility. Spend time thinking about your labels and how they help or hinder you in working towards your personal manifesto.
5. Try a Retreat.
Sometimes you just need someone else to lead the way. Asking yourself those big questions like “What life do I want to create for myself?” or “What is my overarching purpose in this life?” is no easy feat, and answering them is a whole other level. Being surrounded by those on a similar dig-deep-and-get-comfortable-with-the-uncomfortable type journey can be encouraging, and having someone guide you through the challenges that arise may just be the kickstart you need to get started on this exciting process.
PS: If this is something that you are interested in, Live It Active’s next Rejuvenation Retreat: Cultivating Grit & Grace is happening March 16. Find out more about it here.
Getting gritty or grittier doesn’t happen overnight. Yes, genes play a role, but there is no doubt we have the capacity to explore and push ourselves to let our gritty badasses shine through. My only ask: don’t forget about the importance of grace, pause, rest and peace as tools to help you counterbalance grit and ensure you’re well enough to soldier on and live your passion.