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5 Characteristics of Grit

Last week I got an email from a very good friend of mine named Todd Perzel who sent me an article on '5 Characteristics of Grit.'  I wanted to share the article with you here, but first, I wanted to tell you about Todd - one of the most unique and grittiest people I know.  I recruited Todd to sell books door to door with me when he was back in college.  He worked with me for 4 summers selling books and then we worked together again for over 5 years selling insurance.  He is one of the best salespeople I have ever met, but more importantly, one of the most unique and inspiring people in my life.  He studied abroad in college, is fluent in Spanish, and met his amazing wife Nancy while they were both at UGA.  After they got married, Todd and Nancy lived in Spain for a couple years and then moved to Budapest where they lived for 5 years up until the pandemic pretty much forced them to come back to the states.  They have 2 young daughters now and have recently bought a house just north of Atlanta. 

Todd has always been unbelievably resilient and his mindset in the face of adversity and ability to adapt to change is extremely admirable.  Not only has Todd exhibited that in his decades of sales experience (most recently in sales for a global tech company) but also in his personal life through his global travels with his family.  We have enjoyed many 'game on the line' moments over the years in cornhole, water and sand volleyball, wiffle ball, flag football, softball, and anything else we could find people to compete - he is the type of guy you want in the trenches with you when things matter most, in life, work, or sport. Todd and I have always been connected in the fact that we are both deep thinkers, and I continue to enjoy our conversations on how to make the most out of our lives and find richness in life through experiences.  I've included the article here but be sure to check out pictures of Todd at the end as well.

The definition of grit is courage and resolve or strength of character. It can also mean an indomitable and irrepressible spirit that doesn’t back down in the face of failure or obstacles.

Experts identify five characteristics of grit. If you have them, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges life throws at you. How do you stack up?

1. Stay strong in the face of pain, fear or grief.

People often underestimate just how courageous and resilient they can be. Every aspect of life requires a little bit of courage. A child needs the courage to face the first day of school, and a student needs the courage to step out into the world after graduation.

Similarly, entrepreneurs and business owners need the courage to take risks with their daily activities, to make investments and introduce new products and services. They have to overcome the fear of failure and find it in themselves to stand up if a failed venture knocks them off their feet.

2. Be meticulous, detail-oriented and careful.

Conscientiousness requires patience and commitment and is a significant characteristic of grit. People who are conscientious try their best to avoid mistakes and never jump hastily into commitments. While courage is the ability to make mistakes and face failure, conscientiousness is the capacity to work hard to avoid failures and errors in the first place.

You’ll notice that people who possess true grit don’t shy away from hard work. Conscientious people are also quite principled and won’t take shortcuts if they have to compromise their values and ethics. 

3. Stay confident, committed and optimistic.

It’s easy to dismiss resilient individuals as stubborn. They stay on their path and are determined to succeed despite all odds. They’re confident in their ability to make sacrifices, put in the effort and overcome failures to reach their goals.

Entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals need to be resilient to survive in a cutthroat business environment. Resilience can help you withstand the pressure of competition and even enjoy the challenges it presents. 

4. Be outstanding or extremely good.

People with grit will always strive to achieve excellence rather that focus on perfection. While perfection focuses on the result of your efforts, excellence is more concerned with how you get there. Excellence is a forgiving concept and only asks you to give your all to a particular task.

If you fail despite your best efforts, you’ll learn from your mistakes and move on. If you succeed, you’ve achieved the best result possible. Think of excellence as progress vs. perfection. It's better to start and learn with a bad product, then to have never started at all.

5. Stay put in difficult situations to achieve long-term goals.

You won’t succeed in life if you don’t remain on a path you’ve chosen, regardless of how difficult and challenging the road becomes. Most people find it difficult to keep up the hard work and want quick rewards. Long-term goals require time, patience, sacrifices and effort and you need to have the endurance to stay on the path. 

All of these characteristics of grit will help you succeed in your personal and professional life. If you don’t yet possess these characteristics, life will happen and you will either develop grit or live a life of helplessness. As John Ortberg explained: "Over time, grit is what separates fruitful lives from aimlessness." 

Article by:  Andrew Medal,

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