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What The Brave Do: Four Simple Strategies To Grow Grit

Despite all the classes offered in colleges and universities, there is an essential piece of education that is lacking. There is no class on how to fail. More importantly there is no formal education or training on the development of grit, or what others call, fortitude.

Grit provides us with the ability to persevere during times of adversity and failure. That being said, it is essential to our success in both personal and professional life. Written below are four secrets to cultivating grit in your life.

SECRET 1. TAKE A GROWTH MINDSET: Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid revolutionary and former leader of South Africa, after spending 27yrs incarcerated was quoted saying,

“I never loose, I either win or learn.”

A growth mindset means that you believe that you can grow from whatever circumstances life presents you with. This fosters an attitude of possibility and change. Failure is replaced with opportunities for learning. Fear of risk is replaced with courage to try new things.

Individuals without a growth mindset often take a fixed mindset. This attitude hinders our development and makes us brittle. Holding a fixed mindset, we believe that people are limited in their abilities to change and the areas of character, personality, and intelligence are fixed. As a result of this belief, we avoid risk because it could reveal that we are not as capable as we had believed.

SECRET 2. LEARN OPTIMISM: Optimists and pessimists only differ in their interpretation of reality. Pessimists attribute setbacks to pervasive and persistent causes. Meanwhile optimists attribute their experience of setbacks to specific and temporary causes.

As a result, an optimistic view allows for greater change in that we interpret reality with greater possibility for change to occur when we experience setbacks. Developing optimism also fosters increased positive self-talk which makes us less likely to align and identity with our shortcomings.

SECRET 3. PRACTICE FAILING: Psychologist and grit research pioneer, Angela Duckworth, practices a “hard thing rule” in her family. The rule states that each family member commit to something (habit or skill) they desire to learn for a year. They are not allowed to quit, even though it may be difficult.

Being exposed to failure in small meaningful ways is important. The more we are exposed to failure the greater our tolerance when we experience it. Setbacks are associated with all types of growth and skill development.

SECRET 4. FIND A CULTURE OF GRIT: We take on the values and culture we are surrounded by. One effective way to grow grit is to connect with a group that is committed to growth and regularly engages in practices that inspire you.

In our pursuits to initiate and sustain positive change in our lives, we struggle to hold ourselves accountable. Being involved with other individuals allows us to stay committed to the changes we are seeking to make. It also provides rewards of connection and fosters interpersonal meaning.


Dan Lawson is a licensed Mental Health Counselor in Buffalo, NY and has taken the bold step of working for himself as an entrepreneur by establishing his own practice, "Catholic Therapy Solutions". Dan is a proud family man, as a husband to his wife and father to his three little ones. Dan is passionate about our faith and has a real gift of passing it on through his knowledge and wit.

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