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Successful People Have Grit!

As a business coach, my primary responsibility is to help people succeed … not only to reach their goals, but to attain that level of personal satisfaction and meaning that comes from fulfilling their mission.

In this series of articles, we’re exploring the qualities and attributes that set you apart as a small business owner … the ones you absolutely must have … or develop … if you want to succeed in business!

Failure is an inevitable part of life.  But, if it’s a given that we’ll all fail from time to time, what is it that separates the successful from the unsuccessful when the going gets rough?


Studies across the board show that grit is the major predictor of success.  It’s the hallmark of high achievers in every domain.

Some define grit as courage and resolve.  It’s perseverance in the steadfast pursuit of a task, mission, or journey in spite of obstacles, discouragement, or distraction.  Dr. Angela Duckworth, the leading authority, defines grit as a combination of passion and perseverance.

Duckworth’s research shows that even though intelligence and talent are unarguably favorable assets, grit is the ultimate predictor of success.  Anyone can be successful if they work hard and display tenacious, dogged perseverance.

Duckworth also found scientific evidence that grit can grow.

Whew!  That’s good news.

In my fifteen years as a business coach, I’ve worked with folks I’d characterize as supremely gritty.  They have an indomitable spirit. They embrace failure as part of the process. They understand there are valuable lessons to be learned in defeat and that perseverance is required for high achievement.

As a business consultant, I also work with folks who seem to get easily sidetracked.  They let their self-talk … their lack of belief in themselves … take them off course. And my job is to help them stay focused and enhance their level of grit, optimism, and determination!

Grit and resilience are skills like any other.  You CAN learn how to bounce back from failure and hardship stronger, more energized, and wiser than ever.

So, I’ve put together five steps that help you grow your grit and increase your resilience.

Start by getting clear on your mission.  It’s not just about goals.  There has to be a purpose behind those goals or what’s the point? The most successful people love what they do and feel connected to a purpose greater than themselves … a strong WHY that drives them.  Remember, you can’t have grit without passion.

Make fear your friend.  An ability to manage the fear of failure is essential and a clear predictor of success.  The supremely gritty are not afraid to tank.

Do one thing that scares you every day.  You’re not going to develop grit if you’re playing small!  The real magic happens outside your comfort zone.  Get past the fear, and things that used to seem impossible suddenly become no big deal.

Do whatever it takes to silence the inner critic.  Even uber-successful people have an inner critic or voice of doubt.

Acknowledge your negative thoughts.  See if there’s any value in them … real value … like allowing you to see a true pitfall.  And then let them go. Successful people simply don’t give that much power to the voices in their heads.

Develop an optimistic outlook. Negativity is pointless and it completely stymies you.  Expand your belief that you can influence your surroundings and the outcome of events … and become a more optimistic person.

This is personal.  A year after my husband died, my best friend handed me a book and said, “Here, you really need this!”  That’s when I began a multi-year project of changing how I looked at the world … transcending the negative upbringing I was steeped in to become the person you see now.  If I can do this, so can you!

Be Persistent! … especially when you don’t want to be.  You’ve got to understand the power of persistence if you’re going to find your inner grit.  Duckworth’s research emphasizes that consistency goes hand-in-hand with persistence. It’s like the musician who practices hour after hour … day after day … year after year … till she’s able to play the toughest pieces masterfully.

Bottom line?  The folks who learn to manage fear, keep moving forward, and navigate the inevitable obstacles ultimately find success.

Here’s what gritty people believe … “Everything’ll be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright … it’s not the end!”

To your best self,


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Meet Denise: Denise Hedges is a Business Development Coach and Speaker Coach for small business owners who want to be more comfortable, confident, and successful with their sales and marketing efforts. She specializes in helping them use speaking as a way to dramatically improve their results!