Why did I chose the name Grit? It doesn’t roll off the tongue, its not catchy, and almost everyone I consulted before deciding on it told me to reconsider. But, I went with my gut. I believe in Grit. It can do wonders for people in all aspects of their life and seems particularly important today where we expect instant gratification and results. As a fitness coach, of course I want the people I work with to get fantastic fitness related results, but I have an ulterior motive. I want people to develop Grit.
What is Grit Anyway?
Grit is a psychological trait that can be described as a combination of passion and perseverance for a singularly important goal. Grit goes beyond success in sports and fitness, Grit is the recipe for success in life period. The concept of Grit has been made more main-stream due to the work of a psychologist named Angela Duckworth who published a book called Grit. In it she argues and supports with scientific research that the greatest determinant of success is not talent, the school you go to, how tall your mom is, or anything like that. All of those can give you a leg up, but what really matters is Grit. Duckworth’s research has shown that in every domain, the flavour of high achievers is Grit.
Grit is working hard when no one is watching. It’s showing up early and leaving late. It’s taking pride in what you produce. It is doing everything you can in your power to achieve whatever it is you are after. Grit is taking responsibility for yourself and using and believing in action as a catalyst for change. Grit is doing the shitty things no one else is willing to do.
You have to have a certain mindset for Grit to work. You have to believe you can improve your stock in life. If you think the reason you are stuck where you are is because of society, or “the man”, or because life’s unfair, or things are too hard then Grit isn’t for you and you’ll probably stay exactly where you are. Pardon my language, but Grit is having the balls and ovaries to say fuck this, I want more, and I am going to do whatever it takes to get there. This goes against the now popular post-modernist view of things (yes I am aware of systemic prejudice and disadvantage) but you have to accept that where you are in life is almost entirely a result of your actions and effort. And after you accept it, its time to move forward. What you were born into certainly determines your starting point, but it doesn't mean you have to stay there. I don't think focusing on the individual rather than the system is as negative as it sounds. What is hiding in between the lines is that your actions control your fate. If you take action and do the work, you can level up.
Grit and Fitness
When it comes to fitness, I have to say Grit is the #1 determinant of success by a long shot. I don’t mean to say trying hard will get everyone to the Olympics. Past posts should let you know my stance on that. But Grit is the reason some people are fit and healthy, and some are not. Grit is all that is missing, because you don't need to be a rocket scientist to be healthy, you just need to do the work.
Everyone is busy and lazy in their own ways. I might ruffle some feathers here, but the “I don’t have time” excuse doesn’t hold water in my books. I have clients who have ridiculously busy lives and they are able to fit in time to treat themselves to some fitness and take care of their health.
What is the difference between the ones who can make time and the ones who can’t? It’s Grit. After a tough day of work and rushing three different kids off to hockey practises, of-course a glass of wine or a joint and Netflix is going to be a lot more appealing than spending an hour in the gym. If that is your choice and that makes you happy, I am not going to judge, but I will judge you if you say you don’t have time to be healthy or work out. I guarantee 99% of people out there spend at-least an hour a day between social media and television, so you do have enough time to care about your health and fitness.
And this doesn’t even have to relate to fitness alone. If you want to learn the piano, or another language, it is in your power to do so. If you aren’t taking action towards a goal, then it isn’t really a goal. If you can’t make time, what you are really saying is that its not that important to you.
Can Grit Be Developed Or Is It An Innate Quality?
Duckworth’s research has shown that you can develop Grit. It can be trained. And this is why I think the pursuit of health and fitness is a gateway drug to a better life because through a journey towards fitness one will develop Grit. You have to make the tough choices and say no to that voice in your head that doesn’t want to work hard or change. Broccoli isn’t as fun as beer and no-pushup-burpee-box-jumps aren’t as fun as Netflix. But, if you can develop the mental toughness to spend 180 minutes a week on your fitness and tough out a serving of spinach instead of Skittles you will also be able to commit to the other tough choices that life presents. You will be able to look someone you love in the eye and tell them a hard truth rather than what they want to hear. You will be able to scrape together your last bit of energy to give your kids the genuine attention they need. You will be able to make the decisions you need to live a better life and you need Grit to do this. Life is tough and in most cases it is the choices that are difficult to make, and the coinciding actions that are hard to do, that will actually make life better and more meaningful.
I don’t want to sound too preachy here and hope the reader knows I am not giving advice I don’t think I also need. I have a pretty good handle on my health and fitness but there are areas in my life where I need to use more Grit to grow as a person. I’m 29 and still have a long way to go to be the man I want to be. My genuine goal here is to inspire and motivate you by perhaps lighting the proverbial fire under you butt by sharing a concept that means a lot to me. Grit can be a very powerful concept if you bring awareness of it into your life.
"First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do." - Epictetus
Really it is as simple as that.
Grit Human Performance