There have recently been a lot of articles written about instilling “grit” in our kids to make them better learners. If it’s good for kids, then it’s good for us too! Grit is an important attribute for everyone, but especially for business owners and I think it is often over looked.
Before we go any further we need to define what grit is exactly…In the IMDB storyline of “True Grit” John Wayne’s character is someone who has “grit” and a reputation of getting things done. Sticking with something long term through the good times and the bad is what makes you gritty. Running the marathon of business ownership and not the 100 meter dash. The key here is the “long term” part. Fighting through one hard conversation with an employee isn’t grit, doing it every time it needs to be done is being gritty.
The best thing about grit is that you can learn it and master it. It isn’t something you are born with or not. In fact, the willingness to adopt a mindset of learning (Growth Mindset) is what makes you gritty in the first place.
We have all heard the stories about someone who opens their doors of their new business and makes a million dollars in 12 minutes. There are two things we have to remember about these stories…1) Most of the time in overnight successes we don’t actually see the years of hard work that went into that “overnight” success & 2) A lot of them are just that, stories.
More often than not it is going to take a lot of time to get your business where you want it. And in that time there are going to be some real tests of your grit. Many of the realistic business plans that I see are 3-4 years before they have a somewhat mature business that is making stable money. Bill and I learned this the hard way with our latest endeavor, Elements. We went in with the idea that the stars were are all going to align, we were going to kill, have a profitable and mature business in 12-18 months and life will be good. That didn’t happen. Reality set in about 6 months into it and we were forced to re-evaluate our business structure and forecasts to better reflect the reality of where we were.
While it was frustrating to say the least, our grit pulled us through and kept us going in the right direction. We were determined that failure wasn’t a permanent condition and we had to drag ourselves back to where we wanted/needed to be.
We figured out how to better train our staff.
Our training wasn’t bad to start with, it just hit a point that ended. We changed our training philosophy to continual improvement over time. Our staff is never done training, we are always working with everyone on how to get better. It is a long term commitment for all of us.
We figured out how to better market our services.
We got involved in things that had long term relationship effects for our business. Elements is a membership model, so long term is the play. While we do some one hit marketing tactics, most of the stuff we are involved in now from a “grass roots” level is more relationship based. Wet to know people so that when they have a need for our service they think of us first because they already know and trust us.
We changed our outlook to be more long term and become far more focused on the process as opposed to the short term results.
When things are working and we are getting good results, we simply put the gas pedal down and keep doing more of what we have been. This may sound easy to figure out, but we see many owners and operators start to coast when things are going good. That is a very short term view. The long term is to understand that the process is working well and you need to keep beating on it to keep the results moving in the right direction.
We accepted full responsibility for everything.
When things aren’t going well it gets really easy to come up with a million reasons why you don’t have any control over it. Until you own that it is your problem you can’t begin to fix it and move forward. We were not getting the results we expected by using the systems and projections that were given to us. We were mad and wanted to blame someone else (and we did for a little bit…) but we took ownership of it and that freed us to make the needed changes to get back on track for the long run.
In other words, we developed a better business sense because we had to. Our butts were on the line and we didn’t see that we had any other choice. Moving relentlessly forward in the face of adversity. That’s grit.
No matter what business you are in there are going to be setbacks-a vendor doesn’t follow through on a promise, a valued
client takes their business elsewhere, a great team member leaves you, or maybe the internet just goes down for an hour. Whatever the setback, we have to bounce back and that is what grit is. Understand that the setback is just part of the process. The setback allows you to learn from the experience and be better prepared next time it happens.
The growth mindset at work.
The growth mindset says that you can learn to learn better. That you are not stuck with what you were born with. You can develop new skills and talents even if you have failed at them in the past. If we can learn to do something better, it becomes easier (or even possible) for us to stick with it long term-That’s grit.
If you are reading this then you are a student. You are attempting to gain knowledge or sharpen your business skills in some way. You are learning. If it is important for our kids to have grit when they are learning, don’t you think it makes sense for it to be a focus for us too?
Grit is a great word! Just saying it out loud I can feel the competitive spirit boil up and encourage me to dig deeper and see the process all the way to the end.
Go be Gritty!