By Rev. John Braland
Dr. Angela Duckworth defines “grit” as “passion and perseverance to achieve long term goals.”
Grit is courage. Grit is determination. Grit is a willingness to overcome obstacles. People with grit have the tenacity to stick with their goals long enough to actually achieve them. Margaret M. Perlis lists five characteristics of people with grit in an article she wrote for Forbes. Her list isn’t complete, but it sparked me to consider if I have grit. This is her list combined with my thoughts.
People with courage are not afraid to fail, they are afraid not to try.
Canaan was the land that God promised His people; all they had to do was kick out the existing inhabitants. Moses sent 12 men out to explore the land in order to come up with a plan (Numbers 13-14). These men came back with a discouraging report: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large” (Numbers 13:27-28).
They went on and on whining about why they should go back to Egypt.
But Joshua and Caleb said: “…do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them” (Numbers 14:9). Twelve men were cowards, but two men had courage. Joshua and Caleb displayed grit.
2. Conscientiousness: Achievement Oriented vs. Dependable
Perlis writes, “The achievement-oriented individual is one who works tirelessly, tries to do a good job, and completes the task at hand, whereas the dependable person is more notably self-controlled and conventional …. In other words, in the context of conscientious, grit, and success, it is important to commit to go for the gold rather than just show up for practice.”
The Apostle Paul went for the gold. He wrote: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). I want to go for the gold. What about you?
3. Long-Term Goals and Endurance: Follow Through
Our goals give us purpose and subsequently a focused path to travel. If you don’t have any goals, don’t expect to have any consistency or direction. People with grit keep stepping ahead, one foot in front of the other, day after day, month after month, with patient endurance. Anyone can sprint for 50 feet, but it takes endurance to sheer will power to run 50 miles. Do you have endurance?
4. Resilience: Optimism, Confidence, and Creativity
Perlis writes: “… resilience is the powering mechanism that draws your head up, moves you forward, and helps you persevere despite whatever obstacles you face along the way.” Resilient people bounce back. It takes optimism, confidence, and creativity to get back up after falling down. People with grit choose to bounce back again and again. They are not afraid to fail! What about you, are you resilient?
5. Excellence vs. Perfectionism
Gritty people don’t strive for perfection, they strive for excellence. People who strive for perfection fear failure. They are unforgiving and inflexible, whereas people who strive for excellence are willing to make unplanned adjustments along the way to get better results. They are willing to learn from their mistakes and improve on them whenever possible.
What about you? Are you willing to try knowing that it won’t be perfect? If not, then you will never achieve your full potential because you will never be willing to take a big enough risk to reveal your flaws.
This week take another look at your situation prior to quitting or backing off. Dig in a little deeper, push a little harder, or go the extra mile. If you are willing to do this, then you might have enough grit to accomplish your goals.
Pastor John Braland is the lead pastor with Freshwater Community Church in St. Bonifacius and Waconia.