The dirt underneath your fingernails speaks for itself
This week: The dirt underneath my fingernails speaks for itself.
I read that phrase — “The dirt underneath my fingernails speaks for itself”— years ago. And I can’t for the life of me remember where or when. But wherever and whenever it was, it stuck with me.
That’s because I could relate. Not too long ago, I was working constantly, which meant I was always angry and exhausted. At one point I was working four jobs simultaneously. It was madness and completely unsustainable. And I could see how it took a toll on me physically, which is probably why that phrase resonated with me.
You know the tell-tale signs of somebody who’s in the thick of it, so to say: Maybe they’re gaining or losing weight, they have circles under their eyes, and maybe their hands are calloused or stained. They’re working hard, and it shows.
So, what do those physical signs actively say about that person? Evidently, that they have grit — they’re getting up and getting after it every day. And that’s what this issue will focus on: Grit.
1. What is grit?
2. How to develop the ability to persevere
1. What grit is — and what it isn’t
A couple of years ago, Angela Duckworth, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, published a book on this very topic called “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.” Duckworth defines grit as “passion and perseverance for long-term goals.” She expands on that definition, too:
“Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something.
Instead, grit is about having what some researchers call an”ultimate concern”–a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.
Talent and luck matter to success. But talent and luck are no guarantee of grit. And in the very long run, I think grit may matter as least as much, if not more.”
If you’re reading a newsletter called ‘Not Pretty, Not Rich,” this probably resonates with you.
The takeaway: Grit is the convergence of passion and perseverance. The ability to push forward
2. Developing grit
Some people are born with a sense or certain level of grit, while others need to work to develop it. We’ve all known people who lack grit — they fall apart under the smallest bit of pressure, scrutiny, or resistance.
These people generally don’t last long at work, in relationships, or in most other areas of life. For example, they might start an exercise routine, and give up after a day or two because they’re sore. Or they can’t hold a job because somehow every manager they encounter is mean or just simply doesn’t like them.
We’ve all had moments like this, of course, but we can sense that it’s a weakness and course-correct; Or at least wait for a friend, family member, or colleague to call us out on it. For those of us who lack a natural sense of grit, how do we get it?
In a 2016 interview with TIME, Duckworth actually lays out a few things you can do. I won’t dig too deep, but here’s the shortlist:
Pursue your interests — find something you’re passionate about that you can work toward.
Practice — practice leads to skill, and the more skilled you are, the more likely you are to keep at it
Find purpose — align your work with your passions so that you’re chasing your calling
Have hope — or, stay positive. Not always easy, but have faith in yourself
Surround yourself with gritty people — don’t hang out with slackers
Do yourself a favor and read the whole interview, though, which will further flesh out Duckworth’s recommendations.
The takeaway: You can develop grit, but it’s going to take some thought, patience, and some life adjustments.
An interesting thing I heard this week:
The chances of a recession next year? “Fifty-fifty,”’ according to a chief investment strategist at John Hancock.
What I’ve been writing about:
All about the ‘Santa Claus rally’ — and why you might see the stock market lift at the end of December.
A semi-deep dive on basic income, and whether or not it could work nationwide in the U.S.
If you want to check those articles out and share them, I’d appreciate it.
That’s all for now. Keep fighting the good fight.
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