Why do some people quit on their dreams, while others don't?
So, precisely what is ‘grit’? Are we born with it, or can we develop it? There are many definitions and concepts, but the overarching explanation of grit is passion plus perseverance. Other characteristics associated with ‘grit’ are openness, determination, resilience, confidence, optimism, self-discipline, and meticulousness. Grit characteristics can be learned, nurtured, and cultivated. Lucky for us, deeply encoded into our human DNA, is this mysterious quality called ‘curiosity’ and our remarkable ability to ‘dream.’ What do curiosity and dreams have to do with grit? Read on.
Purpose vs. Meaning
Is it IQ or Talent?
Why is ‘why’ important?
Purpose vs. Meaning
Curious people are excited to dig into new things. A hungry mind is a core human need and a determinant of success. Curious people value lifelong learning. Curiosity brings our ever-changing environment into focus and helps us align our dreams. I conjecture that if curiosity is not part of our core being, we are no longer genuinely living – simply existing. Curiosity is the birthplace of our dreams. Dreams come about because we explore, and possibilities are opened to us. Those dreams are the birthplace of grit. Grit can make our dreams come true. Therefore, our life’s timeline must have placeholders for curiosity, dreams, and grit. It’s what makes us human.
What is the meaning of being human? Philosophers would say we are human because of our ability to reason. Psychology experts may say it is our consciousness and self-awareness. Sociologists may say it is our ability to develop culture and communities. ‘Purpose’ and ‘meaning’ are words frequently interchanged when we think of human life in these lofty concepts. However, I contend the terms are separate and distinct. Let’s explore these and overlay grit into these concepts.
In simple terms, ‘purpose’ is the impact we want to have, while ‘meaning’ is why we do something. I believe meaning helps us understand who we are – our significance. Building meaning is life’s inherent value. Our meaning and value create the wellspring we pay forward to the world. Purpose can be thought of as an action to be done. Our passion for designing helpful and/or beautiful things is a purpose. Meaning sustains us. It puts a smile on your face and lights up your heart.
We bring meaning to our lives through our curiosity and our dreams. It is our grit that binds them together. Grit gets us going, keeps us moving forward, and allows us to persevere. Many people seek purpose. Yet how many of us experience true meaning? I caution us to consider the subtle yet substantive differences. Attempt to bring meaningful actions, things, and people into your life. Rather than trying to find your purpose – build meaning. You are free to participate with curiosity and create your dreams. Your meaning is yours to do with as you choose. Grit will sustain you. Meaning brings you the world, and grit, brings the world you.
Dream big. We’ve all heard this. I would change that to dream right. You don’t need to have the world’s most enormous dream. It doesn’t need to be some grandiose, awe-inspiring, elaborate goal. A right dream gets you into a growth mindset. It needs to be big enough to get you to do something! Dreaming right means that your dreams should be significant enough and powerful enough to compel you to take the first step toward accomplishment, and then the next and the next.
Think about today’s mega-companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Pandora, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, etc. Most of these giants evolved from a right dream, not necessarily an enormous one. Most of these dreams precipitated future dream iterations. (Although some of us may question Steve Jobs’ ability to start with small dreams. He seemed to have colossal goals from day 1.) Right dreams can be said to be achievable dreams – big enough to dive in and get started. Over time (a lifetime), right dreams become those big dreams of legend. The size of your dream is irrelevant. The relevance occurs when out of your curiosity you dream, and your grit takes over to ensure meaning.
Interestingly, many small businesses fail mainly because the creators extoll an absolute glorious dream without meaning and grit. Stepping up to your dream can be fraught with difficulties. When things get tough – and they always do – some big dreamers see quitting as their only viable solution. Whether it’s a business or an individual, dreams stretch possibilities. Set goals and dream dreams within boundaries that allow course correction when failures occur. Failure is learning, and it’s the ultimate grit test.
How do I find my dream? How many of us earnestly uttered (or still utter) this question in our youth? It’s okay not to know. And it’s okay if dreams change over time. Pick something (anything) in which you have some interest and design a dream (goal) big enough to get you to take the first step. It may be doing more research or asking others how they got started. It may be developing a detailed business plan. Just as in nature, a ‘grit’ seed must fall on fertile dream soil to grow. But even the right dreams can seem impossible or improbable at first. When you add grit, they soon become inevitable. Finding grit is the single most significant predictor of triumph over challenges in life. Don’t get caught up in having the world’s biggest dream. Plant your ‘grit’ seed and get started.
Is it IQ or Talent?
People have varying levels of IQ, talent, and grit. Which is most important in ensuring success in life? Much of today’s research suggests that IQ and talent are less impactful to success than previously thought. Grit plays a more significant role in almost every endeavor.
Those with average IQ frequently attain higher levels of success because they develop a better work ethic. When things don’t come as easy, you learn to work harder. The more obstacles we face, the grittier we become. However, developing grit is not as necessary when things come easy due to high IQ or talent. It’s sad to watch the squandering of those gifts simply because grit wasn’t activated.
Athletes of average talent become legends due to the incredible grit they develop. Those grit players run the extra lap, do the added work, research further information, and go the extra mile. How could they not succeed with this level of determination? Larry Bird, an American basketball player who led the Boston Celtics to three NBA championships (1981, 1984, 1986), is a classic example of grit over talent. Athletically speaking, Bird was below average by NBA standards. He made up for it in many other ways. Bird is considered one of the greatest pure shooters of all time. He had the grit for practicing over an extended period and at a level rarely seen. Outjumping an opponent was never an option for Bird. Outshooting his opponent was.
Some people think that IQ is the essential element for business success. Warren Buffett disagrees. He has been cited in many articles saying that IQ is not the single defining factor in success. Researchers agree that IQ contributes only 20% to success in life, whether defined as financial success, career success, or overall happiness. It seems self-discipline (grit) is the essential ingredient and driver of success. Grit is constantly developed through experience, failure, and effort.
Why is ‘why’ important?
Why do we need dreams and goals? Why do we need grit? Why is ‘why’ important? Our ‘why’ magnifies our dream and focuses our grit. Our ‘why’ inspires us to action. When you start thinking about why, you engage the brain’s neocortex. This part controls decision-making, creativity, and intuition. Taking the time to truly understand your ‘why’ will fuel your dream’s tenacity and infuse your actions with grit. Our ‘why’ makes life meaningful.
Dreams and goals should motivate us. If we dread a task we consider essential to our dream, that is not our dream. Rethink, reframe and renew the ‘why.’ The things we need to do to achieve our dreams should serve as stimuli. It’s the reason we get out of bed. The adage is true: “Love what you do and do what you love.” Your ‘why’ will feed your dreams and help them evolve. And your grit gets you to the next right step.
Without curiosity, dreams fade. Faded dreams cloud life’s meaning. Unclear, meaning weakens grit. The links in this chain are each essential yet fragile. Protect them. Allow each moment to pique your curiosity. Unlock your dreams to bring possibilities. Discover your ‘why’ and build your meaning. Reveal your grit and make it happen.
BodyHelix was started from avid curiosity. It led to a dream – the dream of bringing quality compression gear to athletes so they can move through injuries and continue to enjoy their sport. It has taken sheer grit to bring our products to market. Our team lives its ‘why.’ We offer the highest quality compression products by committing our daily efforts to excellence. We bring the same rigor to our Hydro Helix formula. Thank you for sharing your dreams.
Until next week my friend,
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