Do you really need grit?


I am thrilled to present a guest post by my student Alisa Chernikova. In this post, she talks about determination to succeed and recommends three great books that will help you get started on your success journey. The post was inspired by the TED talk we watched in class "Grit: The power of passion and perseverance." You, in turn, will be inspired by the post.

Macmillan dictionary defines grit as ‘determination to succeed, even in very difficult situations’. Before we dive deeper into how and why, let me ask you this question: Do people really need grit? Personally, I would go with yes. Still, some might say: “Just find your passion in life, and you won’t ever need to bother yourself with such things as grit in the first place!” But in my experience, it’s not that simple. No matter how much you like what you do, you need to be able to do it well. You need to be passionate, perseverant, strong. You need to be gritty!

So how does one become gritty? I assume there’s no universal solution, as well as there are no two identical people. I believe everything depends on a person. At the same time, I do believe there are some basics that work. I want to share some tips that help me become more productive, efficient, satisfied and, therefore, happier! These tips are closely related to 3 books that have transformed my perception of myself and the universe around me.

1 Change your mindset

Or, to put it simply - realize you can change. There’s one favorite quote of mine that never ceases to excite me. In the Harry Potter series Dumbledore once told Harry: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” But aren’t our choices the direct consequences of our mindset?

To dive into the topic of mindsets, read the book called (surprise, surprise!) Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. While being unbelievably simple, the book retains the power to dramatically transform your life. The core idea contrasts growth and fixed mindsets. In other words, the book argues that people with growth mindset thrive on their diligence, hard work and persistence, whereas people with fixed mindset believe everyone is born with certain abilities which do not change throughout their life. Not to give everything away, my advice is - listen to Dumbledore and believe you can do everything.


2 Focus is key

Once you believe you can do everything - do it. Put your ideas into practice and make them a reality. One crucial thing to consider, though, is focus. Nowadays it is extremely easy to stay busy, while exceptionally hard to actually accomplish something.

Again, my advice goes down to reading this absolutely amazing book called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. Being a computer science professor himself, the author studies the relationship between modern technologies and the way people work. More significantly, he provides you with lots of practical tips and how to implement them in your day-to-day life. If you want to be gritty, you need to be able to concentrate, which is exactly what this book will teach you.


3 Go for habits

Last but not least, the perseverance part. The best way to ensure you complete your tasks on a regular basis is make them part of your routine. This is brilliantly put in the book called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Not only does the book reveal the secrets how to build healthy habits, but it also demonstrates how to kick bad ones.

There’s nothing much to be added on my side, except for, have patience. There’s strong possibility you will fail at your plans at first, and that’s ok. Do it again, don’t judge or compare, changes do take time. Judgement is the last thing you need when trying to develop grit. Analyzing, on the other hand, is totally different. Analyzing and adjusting your habits along the way work magic.



In my case it was understanding and actually believing in the ability to change my mindset that really got me started. To give you some context, let me tell you how bad I was at sticking with things. When I was a kid, I used to participate in a bunch of different activities for children. I was quite a curious child but never persistent. Every time a task was difficult, or I was simply bored, I gave up almost immediately.

So, has anything changed? Yes. Am I the grittiest person in the world? No. But I feel the changes in my life, I see the results that I’ve already achieved and, most importantly, I now know it’s only the beginning. After all, everything is in our hands or, more precisely, in our minds. 

Message Alisa Chernikova if you have questions or to say you loved the post.
All the wonderful artwork was created for the post by Lizaveta Starodynova

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