“Grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie within a gritty individual’s path to accomplishment and serves as a driving force in achievement realization.”(Wikipedia)
I’ve just finished reading Daniel Pink’s “Drive” – a book around the seemingly elusive idea of motivation. One of the ideas he circulates is that of “grit” – meaning the capacity of an individual to be so intrinsically motivated by a long/short term end goal, that he gets through whatever obstacles are in the way to achieve it. He mentions it as one of the assessment points that the Military Academy of West Point in the US uses as a predictor of how many cadets will pull through to graduation. He also points out that “gritty” people have shown to be more apt at achieving their goals in life. Others just give up easier.
Why am I writing about this? Because I happen to lead a team in charge of one of the most complex regions within Europe – namely, Central and Eastern Europe. Seen from outside, the region is marked as a sort of Area 51 – they know things are happening there, they don’t know how, but it is something to beware of. Any achievement above 98% sales target achievement is seen as a miracle and people are sometimes pitied for having to deal with Russia, Turkish, Romanian customers. Things are just … different.
So, in the past 3 years, I have been lucky enough to witness how grit has pulled this region through to an achievement never obtained before. How did this happen? Other teams received their bonuses on time, other teams had educated customers, other teams were always within the KPIs? What kept my team going? Well, having spoken to my Team Managers – this was purely intrinsic motivation, pure grit. The will to reach that target, to prove people wrong, to set precedents, to educate, to grow. The incessant need to learn, to change things, to overachieve. It all came from the inside! Financial factors became secondary. The fact that the region was isolated in its complexity, drew people closer together. It created the sense of – yes, it’s challenging, but we’re in this together. Small successes became big and people just became… special.
Subjectivity aside – grit will get you success! Picking the easy battles, settling for comfort, doing what you know you are good at – this will give you a sense of relaxation, but it will not push you to overachieve, to change, to become better.
True grit is setting goals for yourself and making sure that you perceive obstacles as ways to think out of the box, ways to improve yourself, ways to communicate better with others. The satisfaction at the end of a long, difficult mountain climb is not the summit view – it’s the fact that you are feeling every inch of your strained body saying – what I have achieved is beautiful and in the process, I have grown, I have outdone myself, I have done it with my own strength and now I have won the right to watch the sun rise from the mountain top!
Cristiana Stanciu is an experienced Senior Sales Support Manager within Romanian Outsourcing industry (insourcing) having 7 years expertise in handling sales support operations within Oracle Corporation – for various countries within Europe, Middle East and Africa. Cristiana accumulated an interesting experience within sales support operations, insourcing and team management.