Live Happy blogger, best-selling author and wellness coach Michelle McQuaid presents a series of interviews entitled "Show Up, Shine and Succeed." This is the third of five insightful posts. Each podcast/interview features a different positive psychology expert, all speaking on topics related to happiness, confidence and success in the workplace.
Do you have the passion and perseverance necessary to create a successful career? Researchers have found when it comes to successfully achieving our long-term goals, there’s one quality that distinguishes us most: grit.
“Gritty individuals approach the journey to mastery like a marathon rather than a sprint, and this fuels their stamina to practice their talents over and over and over again,” explains Angela Duckworth, associate professor of psychology at University of California at Riverside.
Angela defines grit as the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward longterm goals. It entails working consistently toward challenges and being able to maintain interest and effort over time, despite failures, setbacks and plateaus in progress.
Whereas most of us take disappointment or boredom as signals that it might be time to cut our losses, people with grit take these signs as the moment when they need to stick with it and truly show up. Her research has established the predictive power of grit to determine successful outcomes.
While much is still being learned about the subject, Angela suggests three things you can do to improve your level of grit:
1. Be Meaningfully Interested
Make sure your longterm goal is based around something that is interesting and meaningful to you. Professor William Damon at Stanford University has found that when we find something personally interesting, and it’s meaningful to the world beyond ourselves, we are able to connect passion with action. It motivates us, providing a sense of purpose and energy, and preventing burnout.
2. Cultivate a growth mindset
In recent research with Professor Carol Dweck from Stanford University, Angela has found that grit is positively correlated with the belief that we can improve our talents and abilities. Having a “growth mindset” is one of the cognitive antecedents that makes you more inclined to be gritty because it cultivates the belief that things can improve, that failure is not permanent and that there is a reason to persist.
3. Ask for support
Rely on other people around you who can hold you accountable to your goals and ensure you don’t quit in the face of frustration or discouragement. When you study the trajectories of top performers, you see that there were times when they stumbled and doubted themselves. It wasn’t always easy for them, and in many cases, they relied on others to help them get through the toughest times.
As Woody Allen once noted, “Eighty percent of success in life is showing up.” And while the number 80 percent does not come from academic research, Angela does agree that for many endeavors, if you can just persist and keep showing up, you will eventually overcomes many of the obstacles in your path.
You can test your levels of grit in Angela’s research lab at sites.sas.upenn.edu/duckworth.
And if you’d like more tested, practical ways to show up, shine and succeed at work visit showupshineandsucceed.com.