By Ndukwu Chibundom Kaosisochukwu - May 04, 2023

Have you ever seen a star athlete, a world-renowned musician or a billionaire and wondered what makes them reach the heights they attain? Have you ever tried to discover what they possessed that separated them from ordinary people, that made them do the things the average person would not be inclined to do?

Well, I know that I have. Through my years of studying the lives of successful and highly skilled people, I have always wondered how on earth they were able to spend years, sometimes decades, dedicating themselves to a particular craft or purpose, toiling and persevering in those endless hours, despite the storms that presented themselves in the process, despite the difficulties and challenges, until they grew to the point of manifesting perfection and expertise in their skills or professions.

Well, a little while back; to get an answer to this pressing question, I did what any curious and dedicated person would do. I began to fish for books, articles and write-ups. Finally, I found a word that answered the question that had bugged me for so long, the X factor for the successful and highly skilled.

Let me introduce you to ‘Grit.’

-Firmness of mind or spirit: unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

-Stubborn courage; brave perseverance. (Collins Dictionary)

-The courage and strength of mind that makes it possible for somebody to continue doing something difficult or unpleasant. (Oxford Learners Dictionary)

According to Angela Duckworth, the psychologist and researcher who coined the term, and whose book introduced me to it: ‘Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals.’

This simple four-letter word is exactly what makes high achievers and successful people special.



Not everyone possesses grit. But for those who do, even before the quality announces them to the world, certain traits are evident in all of them. These characteristics boil down to the two components of grit as stated by Duckworth: passion and perseverance. And upon understanding these components, you can deem yourself as having grasped the concept of grit.



It’s quite impossible to be gritty if you are not working towards something. However, it is not just enough to work towards something, to achieve good success in whatever you are working towards; it has to be in line with your God-given purpose. Click here to read my thoughts on purpose. 

A key distinguishing quality of the gritty and highly accomplished is that they know what their purpose is. They have a well-defined philosophy or vision that keeps them on track and guides their decisions. And you would notice, by looking at some of the most successful businessmen, athletes, ministers and the like, that they do not have a thousand and one visions or career paths, but are, most of the time, dedicated to just one. A world-renowned guitarist does not spend his days shuffling between instruments but remains dedicated to one, consistently building him or herself and growing in the knowledge of a single instrument until the world begins to pay attention.

Therefore, gritty people have direction, a fixed path they have resolved to take in life. They do not abandon this path in the face of obstacles but persevere towards their ultimate goals with great drive and doggedness. Hence, the first step towards becoming gritty is determining what God wants you to achieve during the short time you have on earth. And then, that purpose of yours has to become an ultimate goal that you must be determined to be loyal, faithful and steadfast to.

With that clear direction or path, you can then get ready to consistently climb, step by step, dedicating hours, days, and years towards the attainment of your ultimate goal.

One of the issues many ambitious young people have is that we tend to want to be a jack of all trades, forgetting that we could end up as a master of none. We want to do a hundred and one things. We want to learn all the skills, play all the instruments, and do all that can possibly be done in our profession. But unfortunately, expertise can never be achieved through this.

 In order to actually develop the grit needed to harness our skills or have a clear purpose in our occupations, we would have to sieve through our career goals and determine the highest priority goals. And then, after ascertaining this, we should keep working towards the definite goal or goals without looking for a change or novelty even when boredom sinks in and our repetitive actions in growing a singular skill begin to feel stale. This means that once we have determined the course of our lives through the help of God, there has to be a fierce determination to stick to that course.


Gritty people are not only paragons of perseverance, they are also extremely diligent and resilient. What this means is that by the time they have discovered their purpose and taken out the time to set goals for themselves in a bid to achieve this purpose, they begin the hard, painful job of building their skills, growing in their aptitude, developing their talents, of doing the same thing over and over again till they are perfect and flawless.

There is nothing extraordinary in the actions that gritty people take, nothing unique about the strokes of an artist or the kicks of a footballer. This is more apparent in the fact that a vast number of people around the world are born with the same skill sets, the same level of intelligence, same capacity and potential as the gritty people who turn out to be highly successful. The difference between others and this special group of people is that the gritty people push their potential to their extremes of use. They achieve this by doing repetitive actions consistently and inculcating deliberate practice, diligence and resilience. This simple recipe is truly what births the highly successful.

It might be a bit of a wake-up call for many to read that the record-breaking athletes, the extraordinary musicians and the billionaires of the world are really just normal human beings with the same capacities as the rest of us. Sure, I am not disputing the fact that there are people born with extraordinary brains, minds and manifest special giftings at a young age, but that is not the rule, those people are merely the exception. Most others are ordinary people with an exeptional mindset.

But in the present world, the result of years of hard work has been fallaciously regarded as talent by those who use such a belief system to justify their lack of effort and diligence. And yes, again, while many are born with gifts, attaining world-class excellence in those talents can only be achieved through intense hard work over a very long period of time, stretching yourself to the very limits and then waking up ready to do so over and over again until it becomes second nature.

Consistency of effort over a very long time truly is the hallmark of grit.

The gritty never give up. It’s that simple. Once they have discovered their God-given purpose in life, they run with it, and even if some of the things they have to do are tedious, tasking or even painful, they wouldn’t dream of giving up.



As I mentioned when I shared my thoughts on learned helplessness, many of us are unfortunately brought up under circumstances that may have left us predisposed to giving up easily and never being consistent. But there is good news for you. Grit is like a muscle, and the more you train and work on your grit, the more it grows. You too can have that X factor that makes the highly successful special.

It really all boils down to a consistent pursuit of excellence in our plans and purpose. However, the issue lies in the fact that not many of us are consistent. Many of us are way too easily inclined to quit whatever goal we pursue once we encounter an obstacle or challenge that seems insurmountable or difficult. And like unstable leaves, we drift from one path to another, quitting far too early and too often, never committing long enough to a skill or pursuit to get good at it, and never staying dedicated to anything long enough to actually achieve expertise. We wonder why we never attain the success we so desperately desire.

A person who wishes to get fit cannot possibly attain that by going to the gym every day for two weeks, then once in three days, once a week, then never. It doesn’t matter if he or she does backbreaking work in the first two weeks, it is simply too short a time span to achieve anything meaningful. He or she would have to wake up every single day for years, ready to get up, go to the gym and perform acts that would most definitely range from uncomfortable to painful.

The same applies to us. No matter what gifts or natural talents you may be born with, you can only become highly skilled through hours and hours of consistently working on your craft. There are no two ways around it. Without consistent effort, your skills and natural inclinations are nothing but potentials you never meet. Your purpose becomes nothing but a goal you could have achieved but failed to.

A key word to note here is deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is a type of practice that is purposeful and systematic. It requires focused attention and is conducted with a specific goal of improving performance, unlike regular practice which might simply involve mindless repetitions. Hence, deliberate practice focuses on the improvement of weaknesses, not merely a repetition of the actions that we are already good at. It involves seeking out gaps in performance, the actions that we are not yet good at, honing on them until we have achieved expertise, and then looking for a new challenge or gap in performance.

In Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work on ‘Flow’, he laid out a clear formula for engaging in deliberate practice. In describing the sort of activities that induce a state of ‘flow’, which is a mental state in which a person is completely and totally immersed in a task, he said that the tasks have to be challenging but not so challenging that they become impossible and must also involve an investment of some time or energy to make progress.

Hence, during deliberate practice, you should ensure that you engage in challenging tasks, but not those that are so beyond your current skill set that you feel frustrated. In that way, you are energized to keep challenging yourself and even derive some enjoyment in the process.

You will also have to learn how to follow through on your commitments, which both requires grit and at the same time, builds it.

You will have the build a habit of challenging yourself every single day. And while this might be difficult during the first few months of consistency, if you are persistent, eventually, you will build the capacity and tenacity to exhibit levels of grit displayed by the highly skilled.

A direct quote from Duckworth’s book reads: “Eventually, new ways of thinking and acting become habitual. There comes a day when we can hardly remember our immature former selves. We’ve adapted, those adaptations have become durable, and, finally, our identity—the sort of person we see ourselves to be—has evolved. We’ve matured.”

A simple hack to getting grittier would be to find a gritty community and join it. You can do this by making the right friendships, joining organisations that push you to go to your limits and getting accountability partners and mentors. In the online space, an easy hack would be to follow gritty people and get involved in online spaces that promote resilience and discipline. When I began my productivity journey back then in 2020, one of the things that helped me develop my grit was constantly watching certain creators on YouTube that were very gritty. They were university students, just like I am, and watching them push themselves towards studying for long periods and stretching themselves in building leadership and career skills was enough for me to want to be just like them. In a community where everyone goes the extra mile and is fixed towards fulfilling a particular purpose, doing the same no longer feels like a big deal, because that is what everyone else does. It becomes part of the day-to-day routine and slowly turns into a habit. Duckworth called this the easy way to get grit because there are very few things as strong as the basic human drive to fit in amidst a community.

Now in your pursuit to becoming a better and grittier person, remember that there will be obstacles across the way, failures, and defeats. There would be times in which you would work harder than everyone else in the room and still fail. There would be times in which your purpose gets so difficult and tedious that you would be heavily tempted to just give up as everyone else does in such a situation. But remember, when your God-given purpose and vision remain ever at the back of your mind, and you back it up with a fierce resolve to succeed, and a refusal to let the setbacks become permanent excuses, success is guaranteed.


For more information on the topic, you can get these books:

‘Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth.

‘Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience’ by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


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