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Be gritty and you’ll see success

Column contributed to the Mankato Free Press by faculty member Cindra Kamphoff.

Cindra Kamphoff column, Mankato Free Press, 3-25-2014

What traits distinguish good performers from great performers?

In my role as the director of The Center for Sport and Performance Psychology, I see those differences in athletes and performers nearly daily. Immediately, a few characteristics come to my mind that make great performers so incredible, and one of those is grit.

From a psychological perspective, gritty people have perseverance. They know where they want to go and what they want to accomplish. They keep their focus on their end goal despite obstacles or challenges. They keep pursuing their goals without approval or feedback from others. They stay the course.

But grit is more than just perseverance. Gritty people are also passionate about their long-term goals. This passion keeps them going. It provides them with a powerful source of motivation. It contributes to their ability to sustain their effort over a long time.

In the scientific literature within psychology, Angela Lee Duckworth, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has conducted a number of studies demonstrating that grit is a key factor in success.

Her research shows that grit is positively related to success in school such as academic grade point average and retention. And people who had higher grit scores typically worked harder and longer than those who were less gritty. Their hard work resulted in better performances.

Grit is obviously an important contributor to success. And although it is something that many people might believe we are born with, it is actually a trait that can be developed by practicing perseverance and passion.

Here are six ways to develop your grit: 1. Spend time each day thinking about your goals and the future. Take five minutes at the same time during each day—perhaps as part of your morning routine—and your grit will grow.

2. Write your goals down to keep yourself accountable. Post the goals on your refrigerator or your mirror as a visual reminder of what you want to do in the future.

3. Tell someone who will support you about your goal. If you have an “accountability partner,” you are more likely to stick it out when the going gets tough.

4. Spend some time thinking about why you are passionate about this goal. Knowing your “why” can give you the push you need to keep going despite obstacles.

5. Envision in detail what your future will look like if you were to accomplish the goal.

Think about how your life would be different and feel the difference in your body.

6. Expect setbacks and obstacles to get in your way.

If you plan for obstacles and think about how you will respond, you will more likely be able to handle anything that comes your way. At The Center, we call this your contingency plan.

Success is about sustained performance—the best performers in the world know that.

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at

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