Becoming successful at work: countless books have been written about it, endless methods have been devised for it. But which tips work in practice, and which advice should you ignore? Author and speaker Mirjam Wiersma examines various success strategies. This time: grit†
What actually makes one successful and the other not? The American psychologist Angela Duckworth investigated this question among military personnel, children and employees in the corporate world. Who is most successful? The smartest, the prettiest, or the most talented?
These factors do not appear to be the most important. What really matters is whether you – even if you are not the smartest, the most beautiful or the most talented – want to do your very best to achieve your goals. The decisive success factor is grit, says Duckworth. That word is quite difficult to translate. And it sounds so good in English, the title of the Dutch version of Angela Duckworth’s book is also Grit† So I’ll just keep using it here.
To clarify it a bit: grit is in between character, guts and perseverance. And it consists of a combination of two things that are both very important: passion and perseverance. Grit is so important that someone with a limited IQ but a high’gritlevel’ gets further in life than someone with a high IQ but less grit†
The right mindset is crucial
Duckworth found in her study of success in children that it made no difference how safe they felt at school, how high the family income was, or how high they scored on standard tests. So you are probably curious how your own grit stands. You can test it on Angela Duckworth’s site.
It is possible that the test result disappointed you. Does it stop there? Or can you grit to let grow? Yes, Angela says, but that takes some effort. It really depends on your own mindset. How do you view things? Do you see a mistake as proof that you can’t do something? Or are you more like Albert Einstein? “You never fail until you give up,” he said.
Ask yourself: did it not work, or did it not work yet?
Have you tried something at work but failed? Didn’t get people along in the direction you wanted? Then ask yourself: did it not work, or has it not yet worked? The first is a fixed mindset: it is what it is and there is nothing you can do about it (anymore). The latter is a growth mindset: what is not now, may still be. That mindset can help you grit increase.
The cold reality
It all sounds pretty logical, right? But there’s one more thing we haven’t talked about yet. You become successful by having long-term goals that you really care about. Goals you definitely want to achieve. And then you also need a good dose of perseverance.
However, there is also a nice short-term reward for labeling your goal as unattainable. If something is beyond your capabilities, and the other person is better at it anyway, there’s little point in putting effort into it, right? You don’t have to put on your running shoes early in the morning to make meters. You don’t have to spend evenings to complete your research. You can also lie in your bed a little longer or binge watch a series in the evening; warm and cozy in your comfort zone. The choice is yours: do you stay where you are, or are you willing to get out of there?
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