In life, just like in sports, organizations that seek and reward individuals with grit are more likely to succeed in the long run. Individuals like Matt McGloin may not have had the natural talent for college and NFL scouts to pay any attention to him. But he was talented enough. What distinguished him from the rest of his competitors is his grit factor. He calls it “stubbornness” but I view it as perseverance, passion, and fidelity toward a long-term purpose.
In 1999, Sports Illustrated named the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” the best sports moment of the 20th century. The US men’s hockey team, against all odds, beat the Soviet Union to claim the gold medal. It was simply referred to as the “miracle” because everyone in the world knew that the Soviet team had the best talent and they were the heavy favorites. In fact, the Soviets had won the gold medal in hockey for four consecutive Olympics before 1980. And in 1979, the Soviet national team even embarrassed the NHL all-stars by shutting them out 6-0.
But I do not think it was a miracle.
It was a brilliant display of putting together the grittiest and determined individuals to show the world that perseverance and resiliency is more important than talent.
Coach Herb Brooks, in choosing his 1980 team, picked only 1 returning player from the 1976 Olympics team and the rest were either college players or recent graduates.
In the above video, he makes it clear to all these young, amateur players that they can’t win on talent alone. He tells them that they must be “uncommon”. He purposefully chose a group of gritty players and gave them an opportunity and a reason to succeed.
This team has proven that once your “talented enough”, it’s grit & opportunity that will ultimately make you successful.
Nick Vujicic was born at Australia in 1982 without any arms and legs.
If you ever think about how hard your life is or want to give up on your goals, keep watching this video!
Vince Lombardi, perhaps the most famous football coach, who transformed the Packers that had 15 straight losing seasons into world class champions, stated that “inches make champions”.
In the video above, Al Pacino, playing a football coach in Any Given Sunday, dives into this concept of “inches” as well. He says that the inches that we need in life are all around us. It’s a matter of fighting consistently for those inches, with equal tenacity and enthusiasm, that makes the difference in winning and losing.
It’s not about the talent or the focus on leaps and bounds that make people successful. It’s about waking up everyday to fight for those inches. Incremental improvements and progress add up to success.
Inches = Perseverance
Successful people, like the ones in this video, do not become successful because they are just risk takers and are not afraid of failing. They become successful because they choose to ignore the setbacks and failures. In fact, they use those disappointing moments to fuel their fire and become even more passionate and driven.
They choose to be “gritifying” and persevere until they reach their goals.
Renowned psychologists have discovered that young kids who can practice self-control, patience, and sacrifice achieve better life outcomes when they grow up (educational performance, health, etc.)
The Stanford marshmallow experiment is a great example to support the theory that kids who have the above-mentioned, gritty traits turn out more successful in life.
This is one of the reasons why we support a “gritify us” culture over a “instant gratification” and “gratify me” mentality. We emphasize traits like perseverance and resiliency (gritify) over self indulgence (gratify).
Grit is defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”  Building upon biographical collections of famous leaders in history, researchers and scientists have reached similar conclusions about high achieving individuals. Specifically, those individuals who were deemed more successful and influential than their contemporary counterparts typically possessed traits above and beyond that of normal ability. While ability was still critically important, these individuals also possessed “zeal” and “persistence of motive and effort.” Duckworth and colleagues (2007) believe this dual-component of Grit to be a crucial differentiator from similar constructs. Grit is conceptualized as a stable trait that does not require immediate positive feedback. Individuals high in Grit are able to maintain their determination and motivation over long periods despite experiences with failure and adversity. Their passion and commitment towards the long-term objective is the overriding factor that provides the stamina required to “stay the course” amid challenges and set-backs. Essentially, the Grittier person is focused on winning the marathon, not the sprint.