How To Develop Grit & Overcome Adversity

I was lucky enough to be able to watch one of our Academy clients in their element this past weekend, and goddam are they a sight to behold. That’s not the topic for today however, as there was something much more powerful that sparked my interest (apart from how much more physical soccer has become since my day)…

The team were up 1-0 going into half-time, and had played brilliantly in the first half. Yet as happens so often, the game was a tale of two halves, and in the second they had four goals put past them and faced adversity they shouldn’t need to have. The team never lost the game however, a few individuals lost it for them...

Early in the second half there was a straight red card for a handball in the box. One of them wanted to be the second goal-keeper, and even though it was reactionary, it was necessary. So they went a player-down and 1-1, and what happened next was a mental implosion

Their striker got an unnecessary yellow for misconduct and proceeded to lose his head, so they walked straight off the pitch, an instant red card. Then their goalkeeper made a mistake and called for a sub, even though there were none-left to be had… mental implosions

Unfortunately, these events reminded me of my former, younger self and the mindset I had. It brought back memories I am not proud of, but memories that I learnt from

And that brings us to today’s topic - grit

Grit has two components, passion and perseverance - and why I do not doubt for a second that there is a lack of passion in society today, there is a severe lack of perseverance and sticking to things when adversity rears her ugly head. To see young men throw in the towel so easily was something that shocked me, and it’s something we must help them rectify

Grit is about stamina and knowing that everything in life is a marathon and not a sprint. Its about digging in your heels when the hard work truly begins and all the “fun” is gone. It is not simply about working hard, as anyone can do that, it is about working hard consistently over the long run when others want to throw in the towel. And rising to the occasion where all else want to hide

"consistency of effort over the long run is everything” & “enthusiasm is common, endurance is rare
- Angela Duckworth

Grit is about effort, and knowing that with enough focused energy over time and grit, you can achieve anything you desire within this life. There are no shortcuts to excellence, and all shortcuts lead to places no-one wants to visit

"Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard" 
- Tim Notke

Perhaps the best news of all, grit can be developed - just like everything in life. It is not a fixed trait that you’re born with, it is malleable and can grow with repeated efforts, practice, discipline, and habits

I developed grit by wanting to be in the thick of adversity, and telling myself I am always the hardest worker in the room. When the proverbial shit hit the fan I wanted the ball, I wanted to be in the position of pressure, as that would help me grow and learn more about myself. That was never the case in my youth however, a prime example of how malleable and developable grit truly is

And hell, diamonds are created under extreme pressure 😉

When adversity inevitably rears her ugly head, stay focused with what you’re trying to accomplish, pull up your socks, tighten those shoes, and remembers why you want to accomplish this feat and why you want to be exactly where you are

And so, in the future, instead of simply reprimanding the younger generations when they do things wrong (hell, we certainly did at their age) - we instead need to help them realise the situation and help them develop habits to develop grit in the future

As that is a win-win situation for all

Biggest Takeaways

  • Grit is about stamina and showcasing this over the long run, not just in one-off instalments. It becomes a part of your identity
  • Grit is about effort, and knowing that with enough focused energy and time you can achieve anything in life
  • Grit can be developed, it is not a fixed trait, but a skill - and telling yourself a story that you’re gritty and creating behaviours to match it will see you develop the grit you need
MindsetNick Maier