Grit and resilience

Grit and Resilience – a powerful combination.

"The only constant in the world is change...... How are we supposed to navigate through this, through so much unknown and come back stronger.

Grit and Resilience – a powerful combination.

Grit or resilience which one is needed in order to come back strong from setbacks or failure? Maybe we need both?

The only constant in the world is change, this inevitably brings with it stress and some fear. Put on top of that a year like 2020, a year of a global pandemic, a climate crisis and economic collapse and then the inevitable job losses. How are we supposed to navigate through this, through so much unknown and come back stronger.

How much of a role does grit and resilience have in ensuring our success?

What is Grit?

Grit is described as the ability to persevere towards a goal despite being confronted by obstacles and distractions.

The concept of grit was brought into common lexicon by psychologist Angela Duckworth who defined grit as the passionate pursuit of long-term goals [1]. It is important to note there are two parts to this definition, passion and long-term goal or perseverance. Most of us focus on perseverance as the definition of grit, sticking with a goal potentially long after it has started to look futile and leave out the passion. Passion is an important and critical driving factor but does not translate as someone with grit continuing on regardless, to find passion you at times need to tweak and adjust what is meaningful to you in order to pursue a long-term goal. 

Angela Duckworth – Grit

How does grit compare with resilience

While grit is the ability to persevere with something day in, day out, resilience is the ability to recover quickly from setbacks or difficulties. Resilience is your internal shock absorber.

Resilience has an embedded sense of optimism to continue on when you have been knocked down. This optimism helps to weaken the impact of stress on the mind and body in the wake of a challenging experience.

An analogy of the relationship of Grit and Resilience which struck a cord with me will help to explain it. Grit is the engine that moves us toward our goal. Resilience is the oil that keeps the engine moving.

Grit and resilience together build and support a growth mindset where one believes with effort you can learn new skills.

Growth mindset

Carol Dweck the key expert on growth mindset identified two mindsets: fixed and growth. A fixed mindset is “believing your qualities are carved in stone”. Yet a growth mindset is “the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts” [2].

Having a growth mindset involves understanding that taking appropriate risks sometimes leads to failure

A growth mindset is about being able to put in the effort when it is difficult, even knowing that you will fail at times. A person with a growth mindset defines and rebounds from failure. A good portion of Grit and Resilience support the achievement of short and long-term goals.

Carol Dweck – Growth Mindset

Wrap up

The next time you have a setback rely on your grit and resilience to get you through. These two characteristics are the key traits to support you on your journey. As they are complimentary, one trait should not be developed without the other.

As you use these traits to develop your growth mindset remember you can dream big and put in the effort. While life is difficult, unpredictable and will surprise you, you can prepare yourself by building your grit and resilience.

Further reading

Resilience – how to Bounce back from a failure

Recovery is the key to your resilience

Crisis – how to successfully deal with it

[1] Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (New York: Scriber, 2016).

[2] Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2016).