Creating a breakthrough requires commitment. Where the rubber meets the road, however, is when a team takes sustainable action in fulfilling their commitment. With the right set of conditions, any team can cause a breakthrough. Adding grit as one of those conditions significantly increases your chances of fulfilling your commitment.
What is grit and why can it play a significant role in causing a breakthrough? Angela Duckworth is the leading psychologist often associated with grit and she defines grit as a combination of passion and perseverance. Teams with grit can appear as lucky to the outside world or even stubborn in never accepting “no” because they always find a way to overcome and deliver.
Why do we often overlook grit when hiring or putting a team together? This can be for a variety of reasons, but most often it is because hiring is based on proven skill, accomplishments, or what prestigious university someone attended. While these can be important factors, what easily gets overlooked is the level of determination or challenge faced to achieve those specific skills, accomplishments, and graduation from that prestigious university. Understanding this allows an organization to uncover and determine grit.
The best part is, in addition to hiring for grit, you can teach grit. When a project team is committed to producing a specific, measurable result that represents the accomplishment of an unprecedented or seemingly impossible objective in a short period of time, they WILL face interruptions and challenges. If the team is not armed with the power of grit, then overcoming difficult circumstances or doing something in a new way may occur as impossible.
Here are three ways to teach and foster grit with a team out to produce a breakthrough:
- Create a purpose that is inspiring – When you have an inspirational purpose created by the team, you have something that can be leaned on and used to get through the challenging times.
- Define the desired future result to the point you can feel it and smell it – When a team defines a clear specific result, they now have the context that allows for them to make different decisions and it opens different pathways. Formulating this and the above purpose as a team will foster enrollment and get the commitment of a team that will create new ways of thinking and influence new action.
- Empower your team to declare breakdowns – an interruption to a commitment is a breakdown. When team members feel safe bringing up the roadblocks that seem to slow them down or stop them from fulfilling their commitment, things are brought to the table immediately to be dealt with. This starts new conversations and opens new roads for action, promoting perseverance, there is always something that can be done to move forward.
Grit doesn’t guarantee that you will jump 10 feet in 6 months if you are currently jumping 5 feet. In fact, with grit, you may only be able to jump 8 feet in 6 months, but that is a heck of a lot better than jumping what would have been 6 feet in 6 months had you continued to incrementally grow at the same rate you were before.