The Key to Success: Grit

I try to read a book a week and recently I finished Start by Jon Acuff. The biggest take away was his emphasis on grit. It is interesting not only because of the points he made but because I have read several statements by other authors and researchers recently that say the same thing. As noted by research the biggest driver in a successful life is grit or being able to focus on your task until it is done. It appears to be more important than brains or wealth. Though the wealthy can lead unsuccessful lives much easier than the poor. 🙂

Two with inexhaustible grit?

Two with inexhaustible grit?

I especially liked how Mr. Acuff describes grit as an expendable resource. Similar to strength and wakefulness, you lose grit throughout the day. And if you are doing something you really don’t want to do you are using up grit at a higher rate. For that reason, Acuff recommends that you focus your grit on those items that will give you the biggest return. And you need to consider doing tasks that require little grit (i.e. tasks you enjoy doing) until later.

In some ways grit can be compared to a cavalry charge. Before the charge (early in your day) there is a tremendous amount of potential energy. If you unleash the charge prematurely or if you are attacking the wrong target then you have wasted all of the energy and your cavalry is ‘blown’ or exhausted. You will have to relax and recharge your grit in preparation for the next ‘attack’.

To that end, Acuff goes on to say that everyone needs a metaphorical Central Park. The inhabitants of New York City have an oasis in the middle of town that allows them to escape the hustle of the urban streets. Individuals need this as well and Acuff recommends that you identify your mental ‘park’ so you will be able to recharge as quickly as possible. In this metaphorical Central Park allow yourself to escape from the pressures of the world.

One final quote that I loved from the book is, “The way you look at the world is obvious to you but often amazing to others.” I have seen this throughout my life, however, when I was a youth I assumed that the capabilities of each individual were roughly the same. It is a common fallacy that each person has basically the same perceptions and capabilities as everyone else. The abilities of individuals are radically different so things that are easy to one person may be essentially impossible for someone else. Though that person may have other strengths that are complementary to the first person. For this reason it is good to have a cadre of close business associates who can help you with your blind spots as you help them with theirs.

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5 thoughts on “The Key to Success: Grit

  1. Hi Doug! Great post – I really enjoyed reading it, and it makes me want to put “Start” at the top of my reading list. I’m a big believer in FOCUS (follow once course until success). Great advice to try and do more tasks that require less grit, knowing that those are the tasks you actually enjoy doing. I think it’s also important to stay focused on your goals, and to constantly be asking yourself “is what I’m doing right now helping me get one step closer to X goal?” If you can answer “yes”, then chances are whatever you’re working on is worth the effort you’re putting into it. Thanks again – I enjoyed the post!

  2. Nice post Doug,
    I see this quite often, its not always the smartest and wealthiest that are successful, but often those folks that work hard and persevere through great challenges that realize success – and seem to greatly appreciate it! Bob

    1. Thanks, Bob. It seems I have read half a dozen things recently that reference grit. Seems like most are coming from recent research that shows a correlation between success and sticking to the job.

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