I have always firmly believed that the lessons taught in sports and fitness are applicable far outside the boundaries of the gym and field. If there is any one lesson that stands out from the pack, it has to be the mental fortitude developed by taking on the obstacles faced during a hard training session or a sport season. Recently, Angela Duckworth, an American Psychologist with degrees from Harvard, Oxford, and the University of Pennsylvania, wrote an outstanding book on the psychological trait known as grit. Grit encompasses what it takes to succeed in sporting events, fitness challenges, and even life.
There is no doubt that some people are born with more talent than others. However, it has also become almost a cliche to talk about those people who have also managed to waste that talent. How many times have you heard someone say, “Oh she/he was such a great player, but they just never quite figured it all out.” Meanwhile, there also seem to be countless stories of players who go to college sports as a walk on and somehow turn into great players, going on to play professionally in some cases, as well. What separates these two groups? The answer, according to Duckworth, is Grit.
Many of us fail at something the first, second, third, fourth, etc. times that we try it. It becomes increasingly frustrating each time we fail, but there is a ton to be learned from failing. This is where grit comes in. If you have grit, each failure can be taken as a chance to improve. Imagine if Thomas Edison had simply given up each time he failed in creating the light bulb. We would probably still be using candles to read and see each other at night. While the extreme Paleo crowd may appreciate this due to circadian rhythm, I personally like the light bulb. The same principle applies to the gym. The first time I tried to do a muscle up I failed miserably. The second time was no better; neither was the third. It took me about three months of consistent CrossFit before I got my first muscle up. Many of us give up far too easily in every aspect of life. So what if you didn’t find your dream job right out school? Work hard where you are, and either create a wonderful career out of that, or be a valuable employee someone would love to hire. Whatever your obstacle may be, grit can help you overcome it. Onward and Upward.