Soft skills are often assumed to be inherent traits; either someone has them or they don’t, right? Wrong! A growing body of research shows that people can be trained to develop personal and behavioral attributes.
Grit — the powerful combination of passion and perseverance — is a strong predictor of future success, and it’s just one of the many soft skills that can be learned. The concept has been popularized by psychologist and talent science expert Angela Duckworth; she even has a Grit Scale you can use to quickly assess your own grit level.
If you’re a manager, not only do you want to demonstrate grittiness for your team — you also want to help each member develop this capability. And if you’re an employee, developing some extra grittiness will make you a better performer. Here, we’ll cover some strategies that you can use to train for grit.
Cultivate a growth mindset
When it comes to your potential for success, it all starts with your mindset, or the way you view the world. According to Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck, mindsets fall into one of two categories: “growth” and “fixed.”
People with a fixed mindset believe their traits, abilities and interests will not change — their mantra would be, “I am who I am.” In contrast, people with a growth mindset believe they can learn and evolve continuously throughout their lives. In this way, a growth mindset supports success by focusing on possibilities for learning, skill-building and new experiences.
Those with a growth mindset see new ideas, projects and even challenges as opportunities to embrace. Within this mental framework, failure is acknowledged as an inevitable part of life — one that can be harnessed and learned from, channeling potentially negative experiences into future successes.
You and your employees can cultivate growth mindsets by implementing targeted individual and team strategies; exploring and learning new skills; and venturing outside your comfort zones to tackle new types of projects.
Define your goals and purpose
People with grit focus on their long-term vision: this provides a sense of purpose as you work to meet the individual goals needed to realize your ultimate dream. Purpose is key to sustaining passion and perseverance, whether in times of success or setbacks.
Clearly defining a larger vision, as well as the goals that will get you there, is an important exercise for those who want to train for grit. For teams, these responsibilities fall to the manager. First, ensure that employees understand and are aligned around your long-term vision for the future. Don’t assume it’s clear to everyone; when in doubt, spell it out!
Next, work with team members to identify the individual and shared goals that must be achieved to realize the broader purpose. Finally, managers should be willing to adapt both the short-term goals and the methodology for achieving them as conditions change.
Whether you’re an individual or part of a team, flexibility and adaptability are important aspects of grittiness. Staying focused on the…