By F. Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA, TRA
GRIT … YOUR PERSONALITY TRAIT TO ACHIEVE GREATNESS
Passion + Perseverance = Achievement
Beyond Insurance has fielded hundreds of calls from insurance agency leaders, producers, and account managers who are dealing with adversity in the midst of COVID-19. In almost all of these interactions, the person is in search of a magic bullet to transform pain into growth opportunities. Callers are looking for tools and tactics to improve performance on issues ranging from pandemic recovery planning to prospect pipeline development to best practices for a remote workforce to strategies dealing with a hardening market. While each issue is valid and important, it is our opinion that the number one indicator of success in uncertain times is grit.
What is grit?
Grit is a personality trait possessed by individuals who demonstrate passion and perseverance in pursuing a goal despite being confronted by significant obstacles, failures, adversities, distractions, and plateaus in progress. Grit is a hallmark of a diligent spirit … a conviction that keeps you pressing on when it would be easier to give up. In a society that has become accustomed to instant gratification, it’s not easy to maintain grit. Why? Delaying gratification while tackling an issue or task is hard work and not the norm.
The grittiest people are not afraid to fail but rather embrace failure as part of the growing process.
In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Per-severance, Angela Duckworth cites research that demonstrates that grit is what separates those who are successful and those who fail. The daughter of a chemist and research fellow at DuPont, she was often told that she lacked “genius.” As a researcher in psychology, Duckworth showed that grit is a much more reliable indicator of success than intelligence. Consider:
- New cadets at West Point endure an intense seven-week boot camp called Beast Barracks. Grit—not SAT score, high school rank, or physical fitness—predicted completion.
- Children with grit went further in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, likely because they studied more hours and competed in more spelling bees than those who had higher intelligence.
- More than any other personality trait, sales-people with grit showed a 40% greater workplace retention rate at the end of six months.
In each of these situations, grit had little relationship to IQ.
Passion + Perseverance = Achievement
Instead of talent, Duckworth sees the combination of passion and perseverance as the key ingredients of grit. Passion is an intense feeling or emotion. Passion is loving what you do. It also represents long-term adherence to a goal. Perseverance means working hard, overcoming setbacks, and finishing tasks rather than giving up. It is the persistent determination to adhere to a plan of action. The key to perseverance is to make sure that your goal is a worthy one. What is the outcome of passion and perseverance? Achievement … goal actualization!
Grit requires you to explore your inner self, including looking at dark places that may create discomfort. It requires courage to confront your fear of failure. The grittiest people are not afraid to fail but rather embrace failure as part of the growing process. They understand that passion and perseverance are requisites for high achievement. Teddy Roosevelt spoke about the importance of overcoming fear and managing vulnerability in an address he made in 1910 at the Sorbonne in Paris:
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly … .”
You may want to complete The Grit Scale, a 12-statement survey created by Angela Duckworth that ranks the degree to which you see yourself as passionate and persevering (see sidebar).
Anxiety and trauma
Whether it be COVID-19 or other issues that are causing anxiety in your life, grit is the best solution for post-traumatic growth. Consider these elements:
- Education—Discover how your mind, body, and spirit react to trauma.
- Regulation—Learn coping mechanisms such as breathing, exercise, and meditation.
- Disclosure—Openly talk to others about what has happened. Put your fears and concerns out there.
- Future You—Having grown from the trauma, create and tell a story about how you will live the rest of your life.
- Service—Communicate how you will use your story and experience to support and serve others.
Self-regulation involves controlling your behavior, emotions, and thoughts. Managing disruptive emotions and impulses is an important element in dealing with anxiety and trauma. You may wish to consider setting up a close network of three to five friends and mentors who are principled and supportive to hold you accountable. Where possible, adhere to usual routines. Creating structure and consistency in your life decreases anxiety and stress. It is also important to exercise as physical activity has a positive impact on mood.
How to become a grittier you
Grit is a skill that can be learned and practiced over time. If you have a desire to become a grittier you, I suggest the following five steps:
Step 1—Growth Mindset. A mind-set is a set of assumptions, methods, beliefs, and attitudes you hold that frames your approach to life. A growth mindset is so powerful that it orients the way you think, act, feel, and handle situations.
Step 2—Courage. You must embrace the challenges created by obstacles, failures, adversities, distractions, and plateaus in progress. Your ability to manage fear of failure is a predictor of future success. Supremely gritty people are not afraid to fail. Rather they embrace failure as part of the growing process.
Step 3—Long-Term Goals. Your ability to create visions and set goals is an essential component of becoming a grittier you. Goal setting is a powerful process of becoming clear about your ideal future, designing an action plan to get you there, launching into action, and persisting until you reach your destination.
Step 4—Conscientiousness. In your quest to enhance your level of grittiness, the qualities of self-discipline, thoroughness, and vigilance are required. Conscientious people display strategic vision and are organized, thoughtful, and forward thinking.
Step 5—Resilience. Resilience is that amazing trait that enables you to recover quickly from setbacks. When you are resilient, you are at peace with humanity, perhaps because your life experiences have helped you accept your own vulnerabilities.
Confucius said: “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.”
Grit … your personality trait to achieve greatness!
Scott Addis is chief executive officer of Beyond Insurance and an industry leader. His agency was recognized by Rough Notes magazine as a Marketing Agency of the Month, he was a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award, and he was selected as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.”
Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their organization to the next level. Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed agencies as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.
To learn more contact Scott at email@example.com.