Today was the City to Surf race in Sydney. Thousands of people flock to the CBD to run 14km to Bondi beach. Some do it for fun and some do it a little more seriously. But no matter what your level is, there is one thing that is fairly common amongst them. Some have more of it than others but all have it, and that is true grit.
True grit can be called “resilience”, “mental toughness”, “hardiness”, and “perseverance”. Basically it is a personal trait that gives someone a driving force to overcome obstacles and tough times in order to achieve an end goal or achievement.
Many of the people that completed the city to surf had a goal in mind. Maybe to beat a time, a personal best, to beat someone, to just complete the race, or to simply enjoy it with friends. Some may have trained and some may not have. All would have used some level of true grit to get themselves to the race and then through it.
I prefer to call true grit, “mental toughness”, and i see this as one of the best, if not one of the most important personal traits one can develop. Why? The pay off is huge!!!! Not only in sporting endeavors but in personal lives, to strengthen relationships, to gain financial success, develop your career, excel in education….
Think of the people you went to school with. Did you have some people that were super smart, applied themselves to school work, got straight A’s, had high IQ’s…and now you see them on Facebook…not really doing a great deal with their lives? This is because they may lack that essential ingredient that takes the towards success and their goals in life….Mental toughness. They may have had all the tools but one and when they ran into hardship they lacked the hardiness to stay focused, think rationally and persevere until the tough times passed.
Do you have people at work, or have friends that show brilliance, knowledge, and smarts yet fail to move forward in life?
Do you know people that don’t seem all that with it, smart, well educated, yet seem to move forward in life at leaps and bounds?
Ever see someone in the gym sitting on the bench press on their phone txt-ing away for minutes on end?
Ever see the guy pumping outs set after set, WOD, after WOD never seeming to stop?
True git, mental toughness…what ever you want to call it, is why.
I have a huge interest in this as it is something i feel very passionately about. So much so that i often partake in ultra distance races. I have completed 2 of the toughest races i have seen, XPD. This is a non-stop 12 day race of about 750km. Running, trekking, kayaking, mountain biking, navigating, rafting…night and day, rain, heat, cold….what ever. Its brutal. What gets me through is sheer mental toughness, the will to not concede defeat, the image in my mind of returning home and explaining my failure to people, that’s not what i want. I want to finish what i started. Where did this drive start?
I think it started very early on as a child. If i failed to complete something i had started, my Dad would call me “half job” or “gunna” (gunna do this, gunna do that). He also got me into sports from an early age where i was presented with goals to accomplish and challenges get get past. I even think video games played a role. I would collect all there was in a level, strive to do better, get to the next level, beat the game….
I remember setting myself goals such as skipping rope on top of a brick wall about 2.5m off the ground. I’d do 1 skip, then 2 then 4 then 8…..till i got to the number i had set. I’d do the same shooting hoops in the back yard. I’d set a goal and stay out there till i had it done.
This mental toughness has allowed me to achieve the things i wanted in life when people said that i cant.
Think of the times in your life that have been really hard, tough, full of obstacles. Did you persevere and succeed, did you fail, or did you only just manage to make it by?
How can you develop this attribute?
- Set goals and see them though
- You must set end points or tasks to achieve, without this you will have no path on which to travel. No path, no obstacles, no obstacles, no hardship to overcome. Get good at setting goals. This can be done by writing them down, making yourself accountable by telling people what your going to do, making a plan.
- Get uncomfortable
- Put yourself through uncomfortable situations, face confrontation, do that ball breaking workout in the gym, sign up and do a race that you will hate doing, don’t eat that sweet pastry…. This will build resilience and the knowledge that you CAN preserve and get through the tough times.
- Build confidence
- I didn’t just jump into a 12 day race, i started small by skipping rope on the wall. Build up your confidence in your ability to complete tasks by starting with small ones. They will snowball into bigger and better things much faster than going to big, to early and failing, and damaging your confidence. Start small and build.
- Raise the ceiling not the floor
- Again set challenges that will really test you. Don’t pick things that you secretly know will be easy to achieve, or setting it up in such a way that you are more than certain to succeeded. Be prepared to fail. Failure is not a bad thing, it can give you the thirst to move forward.
- Fail? Keep on cracking
- You failed at something? So what. Just get back out there and get it done!! Keep on cracking until you have succeeded. Thomas Edison remarked to a reporter that he did not fail 1000 times, he just took 1000 steps to invent the light bulb!
- Just get it done
- This is one of my own motto’s that i use daily and when racing. When presented with a brutal leg in a race or a difficult time, i simply weight up the options, chose one and, just get it done!!