This unique trait that distinguishes the real entrepreneurial leader from the rest is what one of the most famous entrepreneurs that ever lived, Thomas Edison, was referring to when he first said that “genius is 1% inspiration and 99 % perspiration.” Grit IS THE QUALITY that allows people to accomplish their goals, to actualize their dreams, to create a legacy.
As a teacher, I can’t help but turn it into an acronym to explain what I mean, so indulge me….
The 1st element of GRIT, G represents a Goal
Successful entrepreneurial leaders typically have a well-articulated goal. They have real clarity of purpose and work toward that singular goal with a zest that for most is unimaginable. I was reminded of why this is so important when I stumbled across a quote this week that said “if you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not so much.
Moving on to R… Resilience
Great leaders and great entrepreneurs are able to deal with stress and uncertainty. They know how to develop enough mental "hardness" to persevere, and they take on the challenges – not run from them. They keep their emotions in check. They rise early, they work when others are playing. The entrepreneurial leader is often the one at the back of the room (or for some of us as a child - the back of the bus), but we are here today because of our ability to persevere. We've learned to work through adversity.
For the 3rd dimension of GRIT… these leaders are Innovative.
The entrepreneurs I admire most have learned to think through possibilities and practicalities. They have a sharp distaste for the status-quo and a drive to think beyond yesterday’s solutions for tomorrow’s problems. They embrace their curiosity.
The final element of GRIT, T represents Trust
Entrepreneurial leaders trust themselves, and more importantly, they learn to trust the people around them. This trust is rooted in a confident expectation of something, in optimism, and in hope. The truly successful leaders learn to trust others to help execute the vision and turn their idea into something real.
This is the definition of GRIT - the essential ingredient for being a great entrepreneurial leader.
Michael is an executive coach, entrepreneur, investor, and strategist with 30 years of experience leading investor-backed, high-growth organizations.
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