The GRIT formula

As far as I can tell, no one really likes to be a loser.

We all like to excel and be good at what we do. This is especially true for the creative soul! All people are creative, and then there are the ‘Creatives!’. Creatives see the world and themselves as a work of art and seek opportunities for self expression in every day life. Creativity to express needs, desires and uniqueness.


So... what makes a Creative excel?

What is the ‘secret sauce’ to help the Creative bring to reality, all that they dream of achieving? That is, what is the secret to actualization?

The key, is a psychological phenomena called GRIT. I am not referring to slang or ‘pop science’. GRIT is a researched phenomena and my favourite researcher and author on this topic is Angela Duckworth (Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of ‘Character Lab’). An advisor to the White House, the World Bank and Fortune 500 CEO’s, Angela’s discoveries on GRIT are highly acclaimed, and an important insight to anyone seeking to excel.

So what is GRIT?

Grit is sustained passion and perseverance for the long haul, to see your creative expression materialize, how you intended.

What is the GRIT formula?

The GRIT formula goes like this:

Nothing + Talent x Effort = I’ve Got Skills

Skills x Effort = Achievement Success!

Let me explain.

Formula (insert) Nothing? You know that moment when you realize you don’t have what it takes? The moment you realize you are not educated enough, not good enough, not rich enough, etc? To live in this mindset permanently is unhealthy, toxic, unnecessary, and damaging to your mental health, however, it may also be a very important moment in the creative process or for personal growth.

I will never forget the moment that I came face to face with my inadequacies. The raw, bottom of the barrel realization that my intelligence, talent, effort, sincerity, and nice-ness, was not enough and not ever going to be enough.

I had been working with purpose, I had been sacrificing much of who I was alongside significant others and with sincerity, I had ‘laid down my life’ (so to speak) to be all that I could be and more in a team and alongside individuals whom I deeply loved and respected. They had become my life, my love and my focus.

(Back-story): I commenced training in my late teens in business management and specialized in personal assistance as there was something about this role that really appealed to me early on. When I found opportunities to be of personal assistance, I jumped at it, and took on the attitude that if my mental energy was going to everyone but me, I was doing it right! I behaved like this of my choosing, as I had come to erroneously believe that my own preferences, opinions and desires were not worth as much as others (subjugation) and it was more noble, to forego my own dreams (I actually didn’t really have any of my own). I felt needed, and I felt important, only alongside others and I believed I was doing what any person who carried the same heartbeat as me would do, under the circumstances. I lived like this for years.

One day, this important and beloved significant other sat me down with intention, and shocked me with the kind of truth telling that one never forgets! They simply outlined that because of ‘my inadequacies’ (ouch), that were ‘not my fault, but not able to be overlooked by them or anyone important’ (ouch, huh?); I (me, myself and I - in person, friendship, role, serving, leadership, etc) would be no longer of any benefit and as such, there would be a permanent and everlasting separation, effective immediately.

It sounds harsh doesn’t it!? It was brutal. There was no amount of performing or pretending that could ever fill any gap this had created in my soul. However, it was also a very important wake up call for me and a turning point. I had to face the moment that I was not necessarily worth anything in the eyes of others, and that when my personal power and sense of value was dependent on what others thought of me, my sense of self would always come crashing down. Once I recovered, I had a good, hard, long think about whether my nothing-ness held any value, and to whom, and decided that even in offering up my nothing - it would always be worthwhile in conjunction with the rest of the GRIT formula (and with some devine intervention - a blog for another time!). I had to use the pain, not push it away or ignore it.

In the creative process, and in developing GRIT, you always need to start with your nothing-ness, and offer it up as energy for the creative process. What is your nothing?

Formula (insert) Talent? Talent is developing your interests, the things you are particularly passionate about, and the things you love, that don’t make you bored. Interestingly, talent on its own is not a predictor of success. Talent, beauty, intelligence have nothing to do with success if you don’t apply yourself in a certain way (more on that later). Developing your interests is also an entirely different subject and we all apply ourselves to this step in unique ways.

I found it hard to understand my talents initially, because they seemed a little odd; I hadn’t developed many interests; and I thought everyone had the same interests as me e.g., I didn’t recognize my own uniqueness! My talent is listening - and listening to the workings of the mind! Go figure! (I worked it out in the end).

What interests are you currently developing?

Formula (insert) Effort? Effort is hard work! Effort is putting in deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is a science that involves setting a goal, focussing 100% on this goal, and repetitively trying to perfect one small thing at a time, for your area of interest. It then involves getting feedback, reflecting and refining - REPEAT! Effort counts twice as much in the formula.

I’ve always had a robust work ethic - but what was required alongside deliberate practice was killer and essential in equal measure. Effort and deliberate practice is not fun and is mostly frustrating as the process needs to be repeated, for as long as it takes! Deliberate practice and sustained effort is a key indicator of success. Many quit on a bad day or drop out too early. Grit and happiness go hand in hand - so you can’t be damaged by deliberate practice. You just need to make sure you enjoy what you’re doing; and when you are not enjoying it - you do it anyways!

**What are you getting feedback on? Are you frustrated?

Formula (insert) Skills? ** Skills are what happens when you dedicate enough time to your creating. Skills are what happens when you start getting better. You dedicate enough time to the things that benefit others, bring meaning, make the world a better place. You dedicate time to the things you can take responsibility for, and the things that give you pleasure. Arrested development happens when we stop up-skilling. We don’t retain our skills if we don’t practice them.

There is something about the art of being a therapist that captivates me, and fills me with purpose. I love it and take any and many an opportunity to hone my skills. I am constantly learning this discipline and hope to continue.

What are you getting better at?

Formula (insert) Success? Success involves having a growth mindset. A growth mindset is a theory of human nature that stipulates that we grow over time and experience, despite the setbacks. It is a mindset that believes that the setbacks define and grow us for the better. It is a mindset that believes that our abilities and intelligence and talents are not fixed - they grow through resilience! The love of learning and resilience is essential for success and yes - success is different for everyone.

Where are you winning, currently?

To build GRIT you need to work the formula. Opportunities and luck happen to some of us, but don’t rely on it. GRIT is the key to seeing your creative process refined and re-defined.