Have you enjoyed getting Gritty with me? I hope that my recent case study in Grit has you thinking, and acting. Grit as a buzzword gets tossed around in the media and in books, almost making it seem as if it’s something you can simply buy. But Grit is amorphous, intangible. As such, it is something we must learn.
Abstractly, we understand that Grit is a sense of “stick with it-ness”. But here’s the paradox: how do you stick with something when you feel beaten up, exhausted and discouraged by the very thing you’re sticking with? In an age when we are being bombarded by information, distraction and overwhelm, where is the incentive or even the gumption to get Gritty?
Finding The Value
I’ve written on the necessity of our values being in alignment with our goals. For example, if Jessica wants to stop eating ice cream because her doctor suggested she “drop 20 pounds”, she might see it as an impossible task. Even if she did take the task seriously, she could easily talk herself into “just one more ice cream”, jeopardizing her success rate. Mission, unaccomplished. By interesting contrast, Barbra Streisand once asked Alec Baldwin how he stayed slim. He remarked that he became a recovering ice cream addict after his doctor told him to lower his cholesterol or prepare to give himself insulin shots in the near future. Mission, accomplished!
The lesson here is that to be Gritty, you must be committed to the value of the effort. Once you have zeroed in on that worthy cause, you’ll need a plan to turn your goal into a reality. After all, an ambition without a strategy is daydreaming.
Often, this is where people get stuck. Jessica has a goal, but doesn’t know where to start. How does she begin to stop eating ice cream, or in taking on a big project, how does she begin to bathe that elephant? The uncertainty and sheer size of the goal can prompt a state of procrastination, fear and surrender. None of these words can be associated with Grit.
Overruling The Amygdala
Let me offer a real example to illustrate how I’m creating a plan to inspire Grit for one sliver of my job description. In addition to the creative fun of developing programs, I need to market them. If clients don’t know what’s on DRIVEN’s shelves, they can’t maximize the benefits of DRIVEN’s services.
I just returned from a 7-city tour delivering a workshop called “Own Your Career: with CONFIDENCE”, and it was a grand slam! Over 400 motivated professionals realized they were not alone in their struggles with confidence, and came away with the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ to build their confidence muscles. My next step is to present this program to six additional clients this year. The goal is in clear alignment with my values, since my mission is to help professionals lead more engaged, more energized and more productive careers and lives.
Just thinking about the goal makes my amygdala raise an eyebrow. “How are you ever going to do that?”, it taunts. And once I let that amygdala set the mood, it becomes more difficult to accomplish my goal. When worry or fear enter the equation, and the amygdala releases cortisol into my body, the prefrontal cortex can’t fully engage. In that state, I will NOT be able to reach my goal, as my brain is literally fogged.
I’ll now need to take some of the doubt and uncertainty away from my goal, but where do I even begin? First, I’ll carve down my goal into bite-sized pieces….a roadmap, if you will, to placing this program with 6 new clients. The high-level plan may look something like this:
Q4: Deliver the programs.
Q3: Work out details including dates, contract specifics, general logistics. Line up volunteers within companies to moderate breakout group discussions and sit on panels.
Q2: Reach out to current clients, market on social media, create a webinar and a podcast to highlight the benefits and details of the program.
Q1: Begin to make my referral sources and key network contacts aware of the program; create marketing collateral to provide for these folks.
Even when a goal is broken down this way into achievable steps, and a person has the motivation to succeed, they still need to prevent themselves from riding off the rails. We’re mere mortals, often without a “method to our madness”. The solution, which will be explored in my next article, is supplementing our sketched-out path to success by developing the “how”.
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