Resilience has been the name of the game this year. We’re all having to build it and use it every day as we try to make the most of 2020. But if we’re going to do more than survive, we’re going to need grit.
Merriam-Webster defines these words as follows:
re·sil·ience: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
grit: firmness of mind or spirit; unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger
These definitions sound quite similar. But they don’t show up as synonyms in the dictionary. And I think the distinction is important to understand, so here are some thoughts on resilience and grit and why you need both.
Resilience is what you need when you’ve been knocked down or pushed off track. Every small business owner was sent reeling by the pandemic, and we all had to muster a lot of resilience to keep things up and running. But for many, it was all too much, and no amount of resilience could keep them afloat. If that’s you, I hope you take your entrepreneurial spirit into a new endeavor and create your next small business.
Regardless of where you are with your business, please take a moment to commend yourself for the acts of resilience you’ve performed in the past several months. It doesn’t matter where you are or whether you think you’re failing or succeeding; you need to acknowledge the effort. Outcomes aren’t always in our control; it’s the choices we make and the work we put in that matter. So, give yourself credit for all the hard work you’ve put in to be where you are now because you’re right where you’re supposed to be.
But we can’t stop there. Because it takes more than resilience to make your business thrive. It takes grit.
Grit is a push because it takes more work than just moving forward. You’re pushing the boulder uphill, and it’s always hardest just as you’re nearing the top. And that’s when you need grit.
Grit looks like:
Some examples are physical, and some are mental, but they all require you to be mentally tough enough to choose to do the work.
If you want your business to thrive, you need grit. Resilience is important, but it’s about maintaining the status quo, and you can’t stop there. I know it can feel like your business is relentless in demanding so much of you. But remember what it’s all for, why you started, and what you’re heading toward.
This brings us to an important point about grit; it needs purpose. People build grit for a reason, and you need to know why grit matters to you for it to really work.
That means having a purpose-driven business and a mission with goals and plans for what you want to achieve. If your business sprung up on accident or you just weren’t sure how to do this when you started, that’s okay. It’s never too late to establish your vision, goals, and plans. But whatever you do, don’t skip these steps. They are critical to you created a flourishing business that you love.
How do we build grit? Practice. Here’s how.
1. Choose your type of grit.
Find something important in your life that would benefit from a bit more grit. It doesn’t have to be related to your business. But it should be important to you, something with purpose. This is about building muscles in your brain, and any meaningful activity will work.
2. Start small.
Make the activity small enough that it feels doable and not too overwhelming. The idea is to be consistent. That likely means making it smaller than you think you should for it to be beneficial. Don’t focus on outcomes at the start; focus on building consistency in small doses. For example, if exercise is your type of grit, you might start with a plan to do it daily with a minimal time requirement, such as 5 minutes a day. You can expand the time later toward something more beneficial when your consistency is strong.
3. Track your progress.
We easily forget from one day to the next what we did and how we did it, so start keeping track of how you’re doing. Track your progress on a calendar, spreadsheet, or piece of paper so you can see evidence that you’re building grit.
4. Take it easy.
Be kind to yourself. Grit isn’t easy. And, oddly enough, it will take some grit to build some grit. And, if it gets too hard, make it smaller, and make sure your purpose is strong.
Share your plan to build some grit and inspire someone else to give it a try too.