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February 24, 2023 11:50 am

Grit is Not Always Great

By Wasim Kakroo

“I believe you have to be relentless about pursuing a big opportunity but ruthless about killing your own bad ideas along the way.” Reid Hoffman (Founder of Linkedin)

What is grit?

Grit is the determination and drive to accomplish long-term objectives. Grit is sometimes referred to as mental tenacity or mental toughness. According to University of Pennsylvania professor Angela Duckworth who operationalized its definition, grit is a significant predictor of success and the capacity to achieve one’s goals. Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course ((Duckworth et al. 2007, p. 1087).

In recent years, the word “grit” has gained some recognition among entrepreneurs and professionals in personal development. If you follow any aspiring businessmen on social media, chances are that you’ve seen some of them post something similar to this:

1. Grit is the stubborn refusal to quit

2. If you quit once, it becomes a habit. Never quit.

3. Winners never quit; quitters never win.

Why is grit as a personality trait being praised so much?

Grit has unquestionable advantages. Successful people frequently stand out from the crowd due to their capacity to surmount challenges, stick it out through challenging situations, and maintain a passion for long-term goals. Additionally, a large body of research suggests that those with “grittier” personalities may be better able to achieve specific life goals. They might also enjoy some benefits including better scores, better results on particular academic assignments, and improved work performance.

What is the downside of grit?

Grit includes passion, but being passionate is only healthy when you are managing it rather than allowing it to manage you. You won’t succeed if your passion turns into an obsession that overshadows other crucial aspects of your life such as family, friendships, self-care etc. You can persist, work tirelessly on a task or project and perhaps even feel a sense of achievement from it, but if all that effort and tenacity is not helping you achieve your life’s objectives (that should be driven by values rather than by materialism), it is simply not serving you any advantage.
Many lives have been squandered by sons obstinately following in their fathers’ footsteps or pursuing their father’s ambitions, even though those steps or those dreams led in a direction that the obedient son found to be unappealing on an internal level.

The worst type of rigidity—one that results in all kinds of unhappiness and wasted opportunities—is holding on to unattainable or harmful ambitions, which are frequently motivated by unresolved emotions. For fear of making a mistake or admitting that their ideals have changed, many people spend years making unsatisfactory or unrealistic decisions. By the time reality compels them to change their minds, other’s ships have sailed.

The art of quitting and when quitting is more helpful than grit

It’s possible that the novel you’ve been working on doesn’t turn out to be a success and needs to be put on hold so you can focus on something else. Maybe you’ve realised you’re in the wrong relationship, but you’re hesitant to end it since you’ve already spent a lot of time and energy into it. In such situations, saying “I just can’t do this to myself anymore” is the most brave thing you can do.

Yes, we should be tenacious, but not foolish. Goal adjustment, which involves disengaging from an unattainable goal and then reengaging in an alternative, is the most quick and adaptive response to an unachievable objective.
We worry that by giving up, we are admitting defeat and that our efforts have been in vain. Yet instead of viewing waste as a problem that only exists in the past, we need to start thinking about it in the present. Realizing this entails understanding that the waste of another minute or another Rupee spent on something that is no longer worthwhile is much greater than the initial investment. Contrary to popular assumption, winners quit a lot. Actually, that is how they win.

Several motivational posters proclaim statements like “Champions never quit” or “Quitting lasts forever.” But, altering one’s course or giving up aren’t always bad things. The most resilient people may profit from striking a balance between blind perseverance and a defeatist mindset. Your biggest ambitions might be easier to accomplish if you know when to give up and give yourself permission to do so.

You’re making a mistake if you go to work or training every day just because you went yesterday, or if you go there because you think that’s the only way to support your family. Maintaining the status quo without purpose can be traumatic.

I end this article with a quote by Seth Grodin that goes like, “Quitting is better than coping, because quitting frees you up to excel at something else.”

  • The author is a licensed clinical psychologist (alumni of Govt. Medical College Srinagar) and works as a consultant clinical psychologist at Centre for Mental Health Services (CMHS) at Rambagh Srinagar. He can be reached at 8825067196

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