Grit to Great: Scratch & Claw Your Way to Success

Michael Schultz is an aspiring writer and game creator. He’s worked on his fantasy story and game for 8 years now. At 22, this represents over 1/3 of his life.

I hope Michael will remember me when he is rich and famous. Or just rich.

But he must not give up. He must scratch and claw his way to completion. And I believe he will because he has a critical ingredient to success.

He’s got grit.

Grit: Passion + Perseverance

Don’t hate her just because she’s successful.

“Grit” is the title of a book by Angela Duckworth, Ph.D., who has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs. Her Ted Talk on grit has over 10 million views. And on and on.

But none of this came easy for her. Before it was great, her Ted Talk stunk. The Ted honchos who auditioned her said she’d “managed to tell a story with absolutely zero suspense.” Her own daughters asked, “Why do you say ‘Um’ all the time?” She confesses, “Nobody wants to show you the hours and hours of becoming. They’d rather show the highlight of what they’ve become.” (To see how it turned out, click here)

Duckworth’s idea is that success is not the product of raw talent, giftedness, or genius. She doesn’t consider herself one of the elite gifted or talented people on earth; just one of the gritty. For her, success is the result of a unique combination of passion and perseverance demonstrated over a long time.

The Making & Molding of Grit

Duckworth says you shouldn’t worry about your child’s (or your own) IQ scores or giftedness compared to others. Instead, celebrate and nurture the following ingredients:

  • Interest: Drill down to one’s objects of love and desire. I call this one’s “Compelling Why.” Notice what your children love and get lost in; these may be the seeds of life-long passion.
  • Practice: Gritty people spend countless hours honing their skills. Practice is deliberate, goal-oriented effort to improve through feedback and repetition over time.
  • Purpose: To persevere we must believe that the object of our passion matters, that it will make life better, right some wrong, or lead to happiness for ourselves and/or the world.
  • Hope: This is when you face obstacles and setbacks, when you get knocked down, but get back up again. “There is an old Japanese saying: Fall seven, rise eight.” That’s grit.

Bonus Ingredient: A hard-nosed but encouraging mentor is a huge inspiration to grit. These may be a parent, family member, teacher, author, coach or artist. If you are an over-comer, a plucky fighter, you probably had a tough, but tender coach in your corner. Let them inspire you to become such a figure to others before you die.

My Hope: Grit to Great

th (3)One day I hope to become a published author. If I do, it will be the result of dedication and devotion over many years and at personal cost. Even as I complete this article, it’s past 3:00 am. I will get up and go to my day job in 4 hours. I am not being paid to do this. As in Michael’s case, it’s a labor of love, the pursuit of a dream. I am scratching and clawing. With God’s help, I will achieve my goal or die trying.

I don’t know if I have the gift, but I hope I have the grit.

How About You?

  1. What dream are you passionate about?
  2. How have you demonstrated perseverance to make it a reality?
  3. Do you actively nurture your own interest, practice, purpose, and hope? How?
  4. Who will stand up at your funeral and say you were an inspirational figure to them?

Would you take just a moment to leave a comment, or share this with a friend?

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34 Comments. Leave new

I love the word, “grit!” Thank you for being that “tough but tender” coach who pushes those around you to grow.

I hope to inspire the young people I will
be working with this summer. I want to love them well and care about their hopes and dreams. I think I have more tender than tough in me but I will push myself to coach them
Well.

For me personally, I am being “gritty” when I show up at toastmasters to learn how to give speeches so I can be more confident as a public speaker.

I have a calling to coach and lead
People.. I don’t want to die with my song still in me; I want to have lived fully and freely. Grit is a critical ingredient needed to make that happen. Thanks, Steve for the great reminder!

Oh, and. I can’t wait to read your book! Keep on!

Blessings!
Kathy

Reply

    Thank you, Kathy.
    Here’s a question for you: Can you envision a tangible expression of your dreams?What would it look like if your speeches, inspiring young people, and coaching/leading people had a physical manifestation in the future? Is it a program? A practice? Are you on a stage?
    As you mention, my name on a book I’ve written would fulfill a dream. It’s funny you mention it because it crossed my mind as I drove home that perhaps I should begin writing my book one blog post at a time.
    Thanks for the encouragement

    Reply

I love the word, “grit!” Thank you for being that “tough but tender” coach who pushes those around you to grow.

I hope to inspire the young people I will
be working with this summer. I want to love them well and care about their hopes and dreams. I think I have more tender than tough in me but I will push myself to coach them
Well.

For me personally, I am being “gritty” when I show up at toastmasters to learn how to give speeches so I can be more confident as a public speaker.

I have a calling to coach and lead
People.. I don’t want to die with my song still in me; I want to have lived fully and freely. Grit is a critical ingredient needed to make that happen. Thanks, Steve for the great reminder!

Oh, and. I can’t wait to read your book! Keep on!

Blessings!
Kathy

Reply

    Thank you, Kathy.
    Here’s a question for you: Can you envision a tangible expression of your dreams?What would it look like if your speeches, inspiring young people, and coaching/leading people had a physical manifestation in the future? Is it a program? A practice? Are you on a stage?
    As you mention, my name on a book I’ve written would fulfill a dream. It’s funny you mention it because it crossed my mind as I drove home that perhaps I should begin writing my book one blog post at a time.
    Thanks for the encouragement

    Reply

Thank you, Steve, for sharing so many thoughts with us, week in and week out! I loved this post. It’s always good to be reminded of the “grit” behind the “glam.” So much of what’s produced in our culture–copy writing, books, photos, social media content, performances, music, art, work presentations, school projects, virtually anything and everything that we “see” and witness–it all requires ‘behind the scenes’ work and effort to create! It’s very easy to be dazzled by art & media; and, it’s also easy to forget how much sacrifice and work it takes to produce such things. Hours of editing go into polished pieces! I love quotes about “the journey” and “the process”….and along with feeling inspired by things & people, I want to remember that beauty & impact requires work & perseverance. I am passionate about writing, learning, family restoration, women living by truth, relationships with those close to me, my health, and Jesus! (among other things…) It definitely takes energy and devotion to prioritize these things. Thanks for encouraging and challenging me!

Reply

    Thank you, Kelsey.
    I will say that you’ve got your finger on a real test of grit:
    “Do I love _______ enough to do it whether anyone pays attention or not?”
    I will say that there is something awesome about completing a post in the wee hours of the night for the pure satisfaction of doing my work. If I write, it’s possible no one will read it; but if I don’t write, it’s certain no one will read it.
    I liked your list of things you love. Here’s how you might prioritize them:
    * Is any in greater need than the others?
    * Is there something that will not happen unless I do it?
    * Is there something it will take me a lifetime to do?
    Thanks for commenting 😀

    Reply

Thank you, Steve, for sharing so many thoughts with us, week in and week out! I loved this post. It’s always good to be reminded of the “grit” behind the “glam.” So much of what’s produced in our culture–copy writing, books, photos, social media content, performances, music, art, work presentations, school projects, virtually anything and everything that we “see” and witness–it all requires ‘behind the scenes’ work and effort to create! It’s very easy to be dazzled by art & media; and, it’s also easy to forget how much sacrifice and work it takes to produce such things. Hours of editing go into polished pieces! I love quotes about “the journey” and “the process”….and along with feeling inspired by things & people, I want to remember that beauty & impact requires work & perseverance. I am passionate about writing, learning, family restoration, women living by truth, relationships with those close to me, my health, and Jesus! (among other things…) It definitely takes energy and devotion to prioritize these things. Thanks for encouraging and challenging me!

Reply

    Thank you, Kelsey.
    I will say that you’ve got your finger on a real test of grit:
    “Do I love _______ enough to do it whether anyone pays attention or not?”
    I will say that there is something awesome about completing a post in the wee hours of the night for the pure satisfaction of doing my work. If I write, it’s possible no one will read it; but if I don’t write, it’s certain no one will read it.
    I liked your list of things you love. Here’s how you might prioritize them:
    * Is any in greater need than the others?
    * Is there something that will not happen unless I do it?
    * Is there something it will take me a lifetime to do?
    Thanks for commenting 😀

    Reply

Reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hours. Thanks for the post!

Reply

Reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hours. Thanks for the post!

Reply
Wesley Scheu
May 30, 2017 11:03 am

Great blog post! I’m the kind of person who, when they lock into something, I’m going to do all within my control to make it happen. Whether it’s an amazing anniversary trip with my wife, moving toward the dream job I’ve always wanted, or finally losing the weight that I’ve always wanted to drop, it’s a dogged pursuit! Like a bulldog burying a bone, passion + perseverance. I feel very affirmed by this post. Thanks Steve!

Reply

    You’re one of my brightest students, Wes, because when you make up your mind, you pursue your objectives with an irresistible tenacity. Losing two belt sizes is the outcome of that. Amazing.

    Reply
Wesley Scheu
May 30, 2017 11:03 am

Great blog post! I’m the kind of person who, when they lock into something, I’m going to do all within my control to make it happen. Whether it’s an amazing anniversary trip with my wife, moving toward the dream job I’ve always wanted, or finally losing the weight that I’ve always wanted to drop, it’s a dogged pursuit! Like a bulldog burying a bone, passion + perseverance. I feel very affirmed by this post. Thanks Steve!

Reply

    You’re one of my brightest students, Wes, because when you make up your mind, you pursue your objectives with an irresistible tenacity. Losing two belt sizes is the outcome of that. Amazing.

    Reply
Bonnie Garcia
May 30, 2017 6:52 pm

Love the blog. I think there is a misconception that if you’re doing what you’re meant to do, it should not be hard. But that just isn’t reality. Making dreams a reality is hard work.

Reply

    You are an amazing person, Bonnie, a beloved wife, mom, nurse, and developer of nurses. You’re actually a creator of cultures. But none of that came easily. Hypothesis: passion/calling + knowledge/skill acquisition + hard work/practice + time = impact.
    I think I’d add feedback/coaching/adjustments to the formula.

    Reply
Bonnie Garcia
May 30, 2017 6:52 pm

Love the blog. I think there is a misconception that if you’re doing what you’re meant to do, it should not be hard. But that just isn’t reality. Making dreams a reality is hard work.

Reply

    You are an amazing person, Bonnie, a beloved wife, mom, nurse, and developer of nurses. You’re actually a creator of cultures. But none of that came easily. Hypothesis: passion/calling + knowledge/skill acquisition + hard work/practice + time = impact.
    I think I’d add feedback/coaching/adjustments to the formula.

    Reply
Michael Schultz
May 30, 2017 7:07 pm

This 8 year old project of mine kept going because I couldn’t not think about it. The reason why it isn’t a full, polished, playable board game yet is because I didn’t work on it almost daily until this past year, that and there were countless redos of the same aspects because I was still learning the craft. Otherwise it was sporadic idea notes, sometimes boards and pieces, and lots of daydreams. 8 years of time, but really more like 4 years of work. But now I work for an hour almost every day on the game now, and it’s finally getting somewhere, (with two play tests that were successful!). I’m very excited about where this game will go!

If there’s one thing that slowed me down it was self-hatred, which brings to the spotlight all of your inequities but does not attempt to fix them. This allowed a victim mindset to be fostered that held me back from working on this every day.

Victims don’t make art.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about art it is this:
If your respective art form starts to feel like work, don’t worry; that means you’re getting better!

Reply

    “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.” – Stephen Pressfield, The War of Art

    “Victims don’t make art.” – Michael Schultz

    I’m amazed at your insights, Michael. Keep plugging. I hope that one day we will each be called “a 10-year overnight success.”

    Reply
Michael Schultz
May 30, 2017 7:07 pm

This 8 year old project of mine kept going because I couldn’t not think about it. The reason why it isn’t a full, polished, playable board game yet is because I didn’t work on it almost daily until this past year, that and there were countless redos of the same aspects because I was still learning the craft. Otherwise it was sporadic idea notes, sometimes boards and pieces, and lots of daydreams. 8 years of time, but really more like 4 years of work. But now I work for an hour almost every day on the game now, and it’s finally getting somewhere, (with two play tests that were successful!). I’m very excited about where this game will go!

If there’s one thing that slowed me down it was self-hatred, which brings to the spotlight all of your inequities but does not attempt to fix them. This allowed a victim mindset to be fostered that held me back from working on this every day.

Victims don’t make art.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about art it is this:
If your respective art form starts to feel like work, don’t worry; that means you’re getting better!

Reply

    “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.” – Stephen Pressfield, The War of Art

    “Victims don’t make art.” – Michael Schultz

    I’m amazed at your insights, Michael. Keep plugging. I hope that one day we will each be called “a 10-year overnight success.”

    Reply

Great article.. I too often think if it’s something I’m passionate about and good at, it shouldn’t be hard but that’s not usually not the case-it’s hard work to excel at something.

Reply

    You are an amazing mom and nurse manager, but none of that has come easily.You have worked really hard at it. This is an example to us all and a reminder that just about anything that matters to us can be improved with knowledge, skill development, and practice.

    Reply

Great article.. I too often think if it’s something I’m passionate about and good at, it shouldn’t be hard but that’s not usually not the case-it’s hard work to excel at something.

Reply

    You are an amazing mom and nurse manager, but none of that has come easily.You have worked really hard at it. This is an example to us all and a reminder that just about anything that matters to us can be improved with knowledge, skill development, and practice.

    Reply
Kaye Mathews
June 10, 2017 3:54 pm

Great post, Steve and love your insights. I’ve found over time that just plain old grit at my day job (which I happen to enjoy and is a good fit) has turned into really satisfying performance over the years. I had the opportunity to hone what I did well and was passionate about over time and discovered some sweet spots- which feel great! I have more confidence knowing my personal grittiness is portable to the next chapter.

Kaye M

Reply
Kaye Mathews
June 10, 2017 3:54 pm

Great post, Steve and love your insights. I’ve found over time that just plain old grit at my day job (which I happen to enjoy and is a good fit) has turned into really satisfying performance over the years. I had the opportunity to hone what I did well and was passionate about over time and discovered some sweet spots- which feel great! I have more confidence knowing my personal grittiness is portable to the next chapter.

Kaye M

Reply

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