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Grit: The one thing Entrepreneurs can’t live without

So you aren’t an extrovert … that’s not a problem. Some of the greatest minds this world has seen may have had the lowest voices. It was their thoughts that rang loudest.

So you tend to compete, instead of collaborate … we can look past this. Some of the greatest performers this world has ever seen, may have wanted to do everything on their own. It definitely was a tough journey, but that drive pushed them to levels we may never see again.

So you may be too rigid and stubborn with your thoughts … that’s ok. Some of the greatest thought leaders viewed their ideas as rocks, unshakable. It was this rigidity that laid the foundation for great success.

So you may not have that much grit … pack it in. Stop. You’re done.

Success, especially for an entrepreneur, is not achievable without some degree of grit or perseverance. If you lack that certain stick-to- it drive, than please do yourself a favor and ignore that voice in your head telling you to try the entrepreneurship thing. There is no trait of more importance that an entrepreneur can have than the ability to stay passionate and focused towards a long term goal, no matter the obstacles that they may face, or better known as grit. Just like a heavyweight boxer in a thrilling 12 round bout, consistently getting back to their feet, an entrepreneur’s journey is full of close calls and knock downs small victories and devastating blows. However through it all, that boxer keeps getting back to his feet. They have to learn from their opponent, make sure they are not caught by that same shot again. So goes the entrepreneur, with every failed launch, misread market, they have to learn, have to make sure they don’t commit the same mistake again. They have to believe in their abilities to learn from failure, to continuously get better, and seize the moment, when the time comes.

The surprising thing about grit, is you don’t need to have won the genetic lottery to have it. Science has shown that grit is something that is nurtured from early on in our lives and cemented with each challenge that we rise up and face head on. More surprising still, is that it is never too late to develop grit. Modern research in neuroplasticity has shown us that the brain is not stagnant but rather malleable, continuously learning and rewiring to the patterns we perform most often, leading to developing new skills. So if we are willing to go to the gym to work out our bodies, perhaps we should start working out our brains.

Here are four traits of a grit and what you can do to enhance each one:

1. GROWTH MINDSET – This is the most important trait of grit, the ability to learn from failure and accept that it does not define you. A growth mindset keeps an individual in a state of continuous learning, continuous growth. People with a growth mindset can often be heard saying, “I don’t know how to do that YET”. They seek progress in all their actions and never are limited by stagnant skills.

How to enhance: The best way to develop a growth mindset is to develop awareness for where you don’t have a growth mindset. Examine areas in your life that you feel you are not a “natural”. Perhaps you struggle speaking in front of large audiences or understanding math equations. You may tell yourself you’re not a natural. The truth is there is no such thing as naturals. Everyone has some capacity for training before developing a skill. If you understand that all you must do is start training at that skill then you are on your way to developing a growth mindset.

2. LONG AND SHORT TERM GOAL ALIGNMENT – Persistence is critical for grit. It is easy for an individual to have short term goals that are challenging, it is difficult to keep those short term goals aligned with your long term objectives. Too often entrepreneurs have a myopic view of goals to achieve, biased by impending deadlines and ignoring the looming dangers of forgotten long term goals. A gritty entrepreneur keeps setting short term goals that lead to long term objectives. They are able to draw a direct line between what they do today and the outcome many years from now.

How to enhance: start setting goals immediately. Set long term goals first, focus on your vision 10 years out. Then work backwards, break those goals down to intervals; 5 years out, then 1 year out. Break the year into months and then weeks. With each weekly goal list, you should see incremental improvement towards your annual goals. Leave room on every week for unplanned tasks, life is full of surprises. This way what you work on tomorrow will have some impact on your life 10 years from now.

3. WILLPOWER – Recent research on willpower has revealed that it acts much the same way as a muscle. It can be trained and enhanced or it can be wasted and diminish. Each of us has a limited supply of willpower, on a daily basis. It’s up to us to enhance this amount as best we can and use it for its maximum potential. Whether holding back an outburst, focusing on a difficult crossword, or analyzing a projects ROI, everything we do takes some degree of willpower.

How to enhance: Luckily there are some good life hacks to start strengthening your willpower muscle. Start doing meditation every day, this simple act will train your brain to focus. Set deadlines on your weekly goals and make sure you achieve them on time. Getting into the habit of meeting deadlines will pay off as you take on more responsibility. As your willpower improves challenge yourself by carrying around something you find tempting (example: a cigarette for smokers). This last one comes with a warning, carrying a tempting object will use up a lot of your willpower. Keep in mind that these little tricks will drain your willpower in the short run, but strengthen it for the long haul.

4. INTERDEPENDENCE – The gritty entrepreneur can’t do it alone. They need constant feedback on their habits. They need to be held accountable for their weekly goals. They need someone to bounce ideas off of. Interdependence is potentially the easiest trait of the four but all too often the least used. We claim to be our own hardest critic however we easily give ourselves an extra day to meet a deadline or lower expectations for our own work. Rely on others, you will learn just as much in offering them advice as what they will bestow upon you.

How to enhance: Join an accountability group or find yourself a mastermind group. Team up with peers and share with them your goals and ambitions. Tell them what you are looking to achieve and have them hold you responsible. Meet with them on a regular basis, I recommend once a week. You will be amazed at how much this will help you.

Success has never needed an ingredient as badly as it needs grit. The adage of “… getting back up” always conjures the visual of that heavyweight boxer, once again getting himself off the mat. Spurred by the years of training, the hard work and determination. Now it’s your turn, only this time, you have the tools. Don’t stay down on that mat, always get back up!

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