Grit: The New Killer App

Posted on December 12, 2011 by Josh Linkner

Why do some companies consistently outperform their competition? Why do some people become champions while others fall short as also-rans? What skills do you need to improve to reach your highest potential?

We’ve all asked these questions as we strive to achieve our personal best. Decoding the traits of success is a multi-billion dollar industry as eager minds seek enlightenment. Leaders sprint to embrace the newest tech gadgets and management tactics to gain even the slightest competitive edge.

How ironic that a back-to-basics approach carries the day. It turns out that good old-fashioned grit has been statistically linked to being the number one indicator of high performance.

Research defining grit as perseverance and passion for long-term goals found that as a trait, grit had better predictability for success than IQ. The experts break it down and list these attributes as the building blocks of grit:

• A clear goal
• Determination despite others’ doubts
• Self-confidence about figuring it out
• Humility about knowing it doesn’t come easy
• Persistence despite fear
• Patience for the small stuff that obscures the path
• A code of ethics they live by
• Flexibility in the face of roadblocks
• A capacity for human connection and collaboration
• A recognition that accepting help does not equate to weakness
• A focus and appreciation of each step in the journey
• An appreciation of other people’s grit
• A loyalty that never sacrifices connections along the way
• An inner strength that brings them to their goal

More important that a go-get-‘em-tiger pep talk, you can actually build, screen for and measure grit. The Grit Test, developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, is a simple questionnaire that helps you determine your Grit Score. It’s worth four minutes to find out how much mojo you and your team have so you can get about building more of it.

Brainiac pencil-pushers, entitled trust-fund babies, and well-dressed charmers are not the only ones that snag the brass ring after all. The good news is that grit comes from within, and none of us are precluded from building this attribute.

It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, come from a good neighborhood, have a fancy-pants degree, or are good looking. We all have nearly limitless potential, and the opportunity to seize it is waiting for you.

Let old-school grit and determination serve as the catalyst to achieving your own personal greatness. You don’t need another tech gadget; just the same killer app that has been foundation of success since the beginning of civilization.

10 Responses to “Grit: The New Killer App

  1. Ho Josh,

    Thank you so much-this is how I look at the journey-You are a great friend, teacher and leader-thanks for sharing great wisdom!! And yes, I will see you at the top, where we will work together and make great things happen in the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan!

  2. Josh,

    I needed to read this today! I’m in middle of creating a private practice psychotherapy business, and it’s exhilarating and exhausting. (Still working a full-time job, too.) It’s a mid-life career change, and becoming a therapist is no easy task, add on building a business and well, there you have it. I raised three daughters as a single mom, and I guess I know now it wasn’t a miracle that kept us, it was grit. I pass on this “you can do it attitude” to my clients, believing that suffering is inevitable, but as we move through it, we gain wisdom. Thank you. Theresa

  3. Great insight Josh. It’s good to know that hard work and persistence still are good age old strategies. The media makes it seem that startups just appear like mushrooms overnight having raised tons of money out of nowhere for an idea they just cooked up. To me, nothing could be farther from the truth. Thanks again for the grit research article. John

  4. Great job on putting today’s successful personality profile into words, hard work will always pay off in the end, just love it!!!


  5. Hi Josh.

    Another great post. On a separate note, I am curious to know what you think about the whole Tim Tebow phenomenon – how he and the Denver Broncos are winning games is definitely out-of-the box and gritty if I might add.

  6. People don’t usually talk about “grit” these days. I learned about it early on from my entrepreneurial grandma who ran a successful still during Prohibition, dealt with some pretty serious life ups and downs and lived to be 97.

    Gram used to say “grit and common sense will get you anywhere you need to go”. Sometimes I forget about her classic nuggets of wisdom. This post was a great reminder – and right on time:-) Thanks Josh.


  7. Josh – I couldn’t agree more. Good “old-fashioned grit” is what champions are made of! Thanks for sharing.


  8. I liked your blog this week. It reminds of a saying I often use…..”if you want something done, ask a busy person”.

    Hard work almost always pays off.

  9. Pingback: Business Wisdom From Successful Bootstrappers | David Horne

  10. As a mother, though, after reading the bullet points and thinking about where I’m gritty and where I’m not, I realized that a key element of being able to teach one’s children to be strong is — GRIT. The chicken and the egg?