Do These 3 Things to Become a Grittier Leader


I often find myself tempted to take the path of least resistance. Whether it's avoiding a conflict or not taking on a challenge because it seems like it will be too difficult, the struggle is real.

Unfortunately, as leaders we don't have that luxury. To be good leaders we have to summon the determination and perseverance (the grit) to blaze new trails especially when it's difficult.

Grit is that extra something that separates the most successful people from the rest. It’s the passion, perseverance, and stamina that we must channel in order to stick with our dreams until they become a reality.
— Travis Bradberry

Here are some things that have given me more grit as a leader:


1. Turn dreams into daily checklists

When I first considered quitting my day job to start Knapsack, it was intimidating. My family was depending on my income and I didn't want my dream to put their wellbeing at risk.

I decided to give myself a 3-month litmus test. If I succeeded I would quit and go full time. If I failed I would stay at my job.

I calculated how many billable hours I would need to complete each day in order to meet my 3 month financial goal. If I could hit that billable hour goal every single day then that would prove to me that going full-time with Knapsack was financially viable.

Each day I knew exactly what I had to accomplish, so I didn't become overwhelmed as easily. I found that it's easier to persevere over a long period of time if you know exactly what you need to do each day in order to be successful.

At the end of those three months I had exceeded my daily goals so I gave notice at my day job and started out on a new adventure.

How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
— Unknown

2. Be accountable to someone

Earlier this year we decided to make an effort to more proactively market Knapsack. In the past we've started other internal initiatives but they often fizzled out as billable work drew our time and energy away.

That's when I decided to hire an outside marketing consultant (my friend Brian) to guide us and help us stick with our plans.

Every week we meet to set our marketing priorities and homework to accomplish for the week. And every week Brian checks in with us to see if we did what we planned to do. This helps brings consistency to work that might otherwise be abandoned in favor of billable work.

Having accountability has helped us have the grit to complete long-term projects that require perseverance.


3. Remove the barrier of fear

Anytime I get discouraged about achieving my long-term goals, a vague fear of failure is often the culprit. The problem is, it's hard to overcome fear unless you pinpoint the thing you're afraid of.

When I feel a vague fear I ask myself these questions to help me imagine my fear in detail so I can move past it:

  1. What am I really afraid of?

  2. What would it be like if my fears came true?

  3. How would it feel?

  4. What would I do next?

Once I've imagined the worst thing that could happen, it's usually not that bad and there's almost always something I could do to fix it or make things better.

Fear of failure is like a horror movie monster that isn't shown on screen. It's scariest in the shadows. It plays on our fear of the unknown. Once it's in the light it usually looks pretty silly.

Be a gritty leader

Here are some actions you can take:

  • Pick one of your big dreams and convert it into a daily checklist

  • Consider asking a friend to keep you accountable weekly for something that you've struggled to stick with consistently

  • If you fear failure, try asking yourself the four questions above to imagine your fears and move past them.

  • Check out the resources below to learn more about grit

At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.
— Angela Duckworth

Tools & Resources

Quiz: The Grit Scale

Find out how gritty you are compared to others with this quiz created by Psychologist, speaker and author Angela Duckworth.

Book: Grit by Angela Duckworth

Angela makes the case that success is based not on talent but a combination of passion and perseverance (grit).

Wallpaper: Never Give Up

Download the Never Give Up wallpaper I designed and set it to as your phone lock screen or desktop wallpaper.

Benjamin Manley2 Comments