A guilty pleasure of mine is watching anime. I got pickier over the years but one caught my interest because of how real it was. In Sakurasou no Pet Na Kanojo, the main character struggles to find something he wants to do with his life. As he progresses through high school, he tries to make something of himself.
But he soon realizes what many entrepreneurs and leaders do: failure and rejection are everywhere. He goes through a roller coaster of emotions with passing a round in a competition, failing and trying again. Towards the end, he is crushed by his latest failure, one that literally sends him reeling.
What do many do in failure?
They blame others, especially the successful and talented. They wonder why life can be unfair. They ask themselves this: they worked so hard and for what?
The answer is grit.
In a world that teaches you to avoid failure at all costs, many have developed an understandable but unhealthy relationship with failing. Now the new trend is to realize that failure is inevitable and to keep moving on. But how does one exactly get this kind of resilience?
“Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”
This is a coaching principle that I have grown to appreciate. Imagine this: why might two different people go through the same traumatic experience and one comes out better than the other?
Hint, this isn’t because one was “better” than the other in any way. But they differed in how they interpreted and dealt with the event. People are amazing at coming up with coping mechanisms to bottle up their emotions or let them brood. But those perspectives deny them the ability to accept what has happened and move on.
This is similar to if you were to start your first business and it tanks. You can either blame yourself for being incompetent or you can recognize that you didn’t know then what you know now.
People are amazingly talented at taking things personally. So just because you failed at something, you are now a complete failure and loser?
Why do people associate their internal sense of personal self-worth with external events? How productive is it to always worry about what is out of your control? Start with separating the two and you begin to build a higher level of grit.
Perspective is everything.
When you or anyone else takes something personally, this is often due to a sense of ego. Get that pride knocked down a few pegs and you might not feel like showing your face to the world ever again. But that goes away when there is a higher purpose involved.
When you fight for your family, you could care less about what others think about you. If there is a great cause that you truly believe in, you ignore the naysayers. When things like these are going on, will you give up when things get a little hard for you?
In classic Hollywood, whenever the hero makes a comeback from a harsh defeat, it is often because someone reminded them this. They are fighting for something greater than themselves.
Why are you doing this? Why are you subjecting yourself to this pain and frustration? What is it that is greater than just you that keeps you going?
Try answering these questions and once you have them, see how they hold up when you get knocked down.
This is probably the most overrated topic of our time. People who believe in the “follow your passion” mantra will most likely have no grit. Why?
Because of their lack of investment.
Angela Duckworth argues that passions start off as interests. These can be hobbies or just what catches your eye. These interests only turn into passions when they have enough time and space to be played with.
The moment you force an interest into a passion is when you kill the possibility of that ever becoming a passion.
People dream of doing work they love. But they don’t know what they love. Or they think they do and find out they’re sorely mistaken. Sometimes they keep doing it regardless of that and even grow to hate it.
That is why one needs to give time (at least a year) to play around with an interest before even asking if they want to turn the interest into a passion.
When you do find your passion, you will have to test it. To improve your skills, you will need to undergo a ton of deliberate practice. If you cannot intrinsically enjoy what you do, you will not be able to put yourself through what comes next: endless hours of repetitive practice and honing of specific skills to fulfill your passion.
If you want a passion, how patient are you?
The last point here is that developing this kind of resilience can never just be a goal. It’s a way of being; a never-ending process. Each time you move past a failure is one more brick on your inner wall of resilience.
How are you developing grit?