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“When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” sang Billy Ocean in the eighties. Some people call it hustle. I call it grit, or to coin a phrase from a fantastic (but out-of-print) book by Gary Jacobson and John Hillkirk, ‘the 3G factor’ of grit, guts and genius. It’s what epitomizes those who succeed in the face of adversity.

A recent article by Paul G. Stoltz on Fast Company put it slightly differently, but rather aptly in an acrostic of the word ‘grit’: Growth, Resilience, Instinct and Tenacity.

Here’s a brief run-down on each.

  • Growth. Do you have a fixed mind-set, or one that is open to new ideas? The latter is where you want to be. If you’re seeking out alternatives, fresh perspectives and new insights, you’re more likely to succeed.
  • Resilience – bouncing back. But it’s more than that. It’s about learning from your setbacks. Over time, adversity consumes you, or you consume it. That’s why bouncing back – with insight – is so important to grit.
  • Instinct. It’s something we tend to develop over time. When you’re first starting out – at most things in life – you’re unlikely to make the right call 100% of the time. But rest assured, you’ve got company. Even top executives will tell you that they too spend a great deal of time pursuing less than optimal goals in less than optimal ways. Don’t dwell on it, move on. Do better next time.
  • Tenacity – the opposite of throwing in the towel. Sometimes it’s the difference between success and failure. It’s getting through the mire when you’re at the end of your tether. It might require a bit of crazy, but in the end, it’s what propels you over the finish line.

Sometimes you can’t help looking for a quick and easy fix. Sometimes you might find it. Sometimes you just need grit.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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