When I was growing up, I was constantly given words of advice from those around me. Though many of these I shouldn’t repeat, there were a few messages that forever stuck with me. 

In life and business, I was told to “stay hungry”. At home, where my father was a very well respected surgeon, I witnessed first-hand his drive and ambition. He taught me to “push myself harder” to be able to live a great life – that nothing would be handed to me. And in championship softball games, our captain would scream “you gotta want it”. Giving up was not an option! These are more than just words of advice. These are words that still motivate me today. 

I learned years ago that being successful is not always about talent and ability but more about passion and effort. There will always be people more talented than you. It’s your effort and persistence that will differentiate you – and this is the essence of grit.

In fact, I was never a great student. I needed to attend summer school my first year at Canisius High School to pass certain classes. That was a humbling experience, but I was motivated to push through, ultimately raising my grades throughout the rest of high school, college, and grad school.

True grit

Angela Duckworth is a psychologist, author and an expert in grit. She defines grit as a combination of passion and perseverance, not just for today but for long-term goals. She says effort is often ignored and outshone by talent. But what is far more important in life is effort. Without effort, talent is nothing more than unmet potential.

Her research has found a major correlation between someone’s level of grit and what they can achieve. See one of her Ted Talks here, in which she discusses finding that students in the Chicago public schools who demonstrated grit dramatically outperformed those who didn’t, even when other factors were equal.

Duckworth says that the most highly-accomplished individuals are models of perseverance. In their eyes, there is no end game. They are never satisfied because they want to consistently improve. They consider themselves not good enough and in a way, are satisfied being unsatisfied. They are the opposite of complacent. Are you satisfied in being unsatisfied, or are you often complacent?

At Manzella, we search for employees that show signs of grit—those whom we know are passionate and are chasing a dream, not just filling a chair. Our most recent hires continuously impress me by learning new skills and taking on tasks we never expected from them. They have the passion to learn and get better every day.

So how gritty are you? Do you prepare and work harder than the person next to you? Will you pen your own history? Or are you content to simply play the hand you’re dealt? Are you passionate and do you put in the long-term effort, or simply coast through life and accept the consequences? And are you mentally tough, which I believe is one of the most underappreciated strengths of character? 

Ask yourself, “Am I willing to fail?”. If you do, are you resilient enough to get right back at it? Are you mentally tough? Have you set long-term goals for yourself that you work every day at achieving? Are you disciplined or do you give up easily? If you are not sure how gritty you are, you’ll find out now! Get your grit score here.

Be passionate and persistent and stick with your goals. Create that vision and work harder to achieve it. Stay gritty, hungry and motivated, and my bet is success will come your way!