SuperPower of the Week: Grit
Fall down. Get up. Keep going. That is the essence of grit.
Grit is the fierce look in the eyes of even the slowest marathon runner which says, “I will finish this race even if I have to crawl that last painful mile.” It’s the roll-with-the-punches and learn-from-mistakes attitude that allows us to bounce back from setbacks. It’s the determination, discipline, and in-it-for-the-long-haul mentality that every successful entrepreneur must have.
Business is a marathon, not a sprint. This is a message I am constantly reinforcing with my students and clients. If you try to sprint your way through a marathon, you will crash and burn. I’ve seen people try to run marathons this way, and I’ve seen people try to run their business this way. It isn’t pretty.
Whether you’re running a marathon or building a business, you have to manage your expectations. If you’re serious about taking on long-term goals and creating a long-term business vision, you must adopt a long-term mentality.
Let’s run with this metaphor. You can’t just decide to run a marathon and go do that tomorrow, next week, or even next month. You need a minimum of six months to build endurance and strength, and get your body acclimated to distance runs, so you can sustain the 26.2 mile race.
Running a marathon is a big commitment. You must be willing to take consistent action toward your race goals, whether it’s just finishing or running the race at an R.F.T. (ridiculously fast time). Consistent effort over time is the key to getting results.
To train for a marathon, you need to stick to your training plan to make sure you’re ready for race day. That often means running 4-5 days per week, including a weekly pace run and a long run. Long runs can take as much as 4 hours, so you need to budget time and energy for all these runs every week, not to mention recovery time and paying attention to how you fuel your body. You have to keep training in the face of endless blisters, muscle aches, fatigue, and chafing (when friction on long runs causes you to get blisters from your clothes – ouch!)
It’s a huge commitment. But that’s what it takes to achieve a huge goal.
In business, it’s no different. Instead of working up to a 20 mile run, it might mean mastering sales skills, honing your service delivery system, or learning the marketing activities that will best reach your clients. It involves adopting new habits, mastering new skills, and getting way out of your comfort zone. Most of all, it’s about strengthening your mindset – where the real endurance for entrepreneurs happens. And you’ll have to keep going even when you get discouraged, lose a client, miss a financial goal, or feel burnt out.
All of these things take time, energy, and unwavering commitment. But the payoffs are HUGE.
When I ran my first marathon in 2010, something I had dreamed of doing my whole life, I was floating on air for at least a month afterward. Literally. Floating. With a giant, ecstatic grin plastered on my face everywhere I went.
I had worked hard, trained diligently, and finished the race. I felt on top of the world. It was such a big achievement, it actually transformed me. It transformed me.
That’s what creating success in your business feels like. You set a bold vision. You make a BIG commitment. Along the way you fall down, get up, and keep going until you get there. And when you reach each stretch goal and milestone in your business, you will be transformed. (Ideally with that huge ecstatic grin on your face.) It’s so worth it.
The beautiful part about training for a marathon is that every workout counts toward the end goal. Every training run builds on the last one. Your efforts are cumulative. And the same is true for your business.
That contact you made three months ago could lead to your next big sale tomorrow. The seeds you planted with that email marketing plan you’ve been working on for 6 months are starting to sprout and yield fruit. All your networking and community work for the past year is suddenly bringing you a ton of visibility with your market.
Notice how none of those things are quick cause-and-effect results? Like a marathon, building a business takes time, my friend.
To succeed as a solopreneur, you have to be willing to keep going even if you’re not crossing the finish line today. You may need to take a break or a metaphorical ice bath (something marathon runners do to accelerate recovery after long runs) now and then to recover, but you can’t give up when the going gets tough. There will be times when you feel beat up by slow sales, or frustrated by your social media learning curve. But. You. Must. Go. On.
Stick to your business plan today, this week, this month, this quarter, and this year. Take those consistent, cumulative actions one step at a time toward your business vision. Slow and steady, with grit, my friend. That is how you will win this race.
Take a few moments to assess your grit quotient by journaling on the questions below. Do you have what it takes to finish the race? (By the way, for a fascinating and in-depth read on this topic, check out Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth.)
- What is your long-term vision for your business?
- What’s it going to take to create that vision?
- How long is it going to take to create that vision? (Take your best guess, be realistic.)
- What makes your vision worth it?
- What obstacles are you likely to face along the way?
- On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to creating that vision?
- On a scale of 1-10, how willing are you to shake it off and get back on track after a disappointment or setback?
- When do you feel like giving up?
- What can you do to recommit and reengage when you feel beat up by your business?