Grit is a key element in the creative process. How do I know? I wrote a whole chapter about it in my book! Here’s why we all need a little grit in our work salad…
This week has been good, but challenging and I’m reminded about the research I undertook about grit for my book In Your Creative Element . Unsurprisingly, I think grit is something we need now more than ever. Because it’s all about the ability to endure, focus and continue.
It’s about approaching work and tasks as a marathon rather than a sprint.
The element of grit is a well-understood concept in relation to achievement in sport. Additionally, this element can also be a crucial factor in turning ideas into innovations that see the light of day.
Generating great ideas is just a tiny fraction of any creative success story. There are different studies that show that it can take anywhere from 50, 100 or even 3,000 crude ideas to be generated for one to make it to the real world.
Grit plays a key role in delivering those ideas, and applies to many other parts of life, too. Grit is the ability to see things through when the going gets tough. And it’s about dealing with setbacks, being able to focus and completing the task in hand.
There’s often a part in the creative process where it feels too hard. Where you can’t see the wood for the trees and where the answer proves elusive.
How gritty are you?
The creative process can be frustrating and challenging. When there are big problems to be solved – be they environmental, financial, commercial, societal, economic, military or political – we need our best problem-solvers to have grit.
With experience as a management consultant, teacher and now psychologist and PhD, Angela Lee Duckworth believes that grit is an accurate predictor of success in any field. In her research she asked a simple question in a broad range of situations from West Point Military Academy to National Spelling Bees – ‘who is successful here, and why?’
She defines grit as ‘the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals’ (Duckworth et al, 2007) and has created a ‘grit scale’, which you can find online. A maximum score means you’re extremely gritty. Watch her talk below.
Now ask yourself:
- Where could you do with more grit in your creative life?
- How does grit (or lack of it) show up anywhere else in your professional life?
- Who do you know and admire (even grudgingly) for their personal demonstration of grit? What beliefs do you think they might hold that help them persevere?
Think of resilience as something you do, rather than something you have and flex those muscles to help keep you on track with your goals. Here are some other posts you might enjoy on this topic.