Do you want to be great? Better find some grit and dig in.


Intelligence is not the forecaster of success. The concept of “success” is constructed from a variety of factors. “Smarts” counts for something, of course, but it’s not the deciding variable.

Oh, and by the way, you still have the ability to enjoy success, even if your biggest achievement to date was not burning down your parents’ basement when you crashed there for a particularly dark three-year stint. The past is not a predictor of your future (hallelujah!).

Don’t let someone you perceive as smarter than you make you feel like you don’t have what it takes to reach the top. You don’t even need tons of inherent talent to succeed. Seriously! The one, single thing required to separate from the pack is much easier to obtain: Perseverance. Lots of it. Through sunshine and rain. Successes and failures.

Greatness is not achieved accidentally. It requires dedicated, ongoing, ad nauseam, perseverance.

Researchers refer to this relentless perseverance as “grit”, and they’re working on ways not just to measure it, but to foster more grit within our population. Psychologist Angela Duckworth’s popular 2013 TED talk describes grit in the following terms:

Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals

Grit is having stamina

Grit is sticking with your future

Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint

Grit. Is. Tough. Some people are born with it. A lot of it. As for the rest of us, the upshot is that we can actively learn to acquire more of the stuff. Start by taking Duckworth’s Grit Test to find out where you sit today. It’s fun (think Buzzfeed quiz without discovering which Friends character you are) and takes all of 90 seconds.

Got your score? Okay, moving on…

If you’re not quite as gritty as you’d like your colleagues to believe, there’s hope for you yet. Keep reading.

Grit builds confidence, and confidence creates options

I have mentored many budding entrepreneurs over the years. My company, Communo, is built on providing a thriving community for entrepreneurial marketing professionals to give and receive work. While entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to benefit, bigtime, from long-term goals and grit, this group is also so susceptible to retreating after experiencing a failure or seemingly insurmountable challenge. Financial ruin, reputational damage and personal life sacrifices just scratch the surface of the typical, yet very real, sources of fear for most entrepreneurs. Fortunately, grit can be separated into specific attributes that you can work on, right now, to help guide you toward a more tenacious daily work routine. Consider TalentSmart’s top gritty characteristics required to succeed.

  1. You do not fear failure

  2. You get back up, even when you’re down

  3. You make difficult calls, especially when they’re uncomfortable

  4. You don’t let emotions overtake rational business decisions

  5. You trust your gut

  6. You give more than you receive

  7. You are kind to everyone, even if they have been rude to you

  8. You accept accountability for your actions

Pick one thing from the list above to focus on this week. Assess in seven days and share if you have felt a difference in how work has worked during that period. You may just notice microscopic changes at first, but pay attention to the rumblings of a quiet revolution within.

Don’t stop, keep going!

Going it alone requires unrelenting confidence in your ideas in order to push through dark times. It also requires unrelenting relentlessness! Take comfort in the unnerving equation that if you put in 110 percent every day, and you STILL feel like it’s really hard, well then you’re doing something right. Keep going. One day all the exhaustion and sacrifice really will pay off.

Expect more failures in this life than successes. Especially if you’re willing to take risks to get ahead. Talent and intelligence are nice, but know it’s pure perseverance that is going to help you summit the mountain.