One of my favourite writers on mental toughness is ex FBI agent, La Rae Quy, who frequently uses her upbringing and experience as an FBI operative in her storytelling. In this post she offers some valuable advice on how to develop grit when times are tough.
Take it away La Rae.
How to develop grit in times of crisis
The Chinese word for crisis is made by combining two characters meaning crisis and opportunity. The wise and ancient Chinese understood that the true nature of a crisis is an opportunity in disguise.
A crisis implies change that has not been invited and an outcome that is not predictable. Rarely do changes come into our life that do not require a significant amount of restructuring and readjustment.
Similar to remodeling a house, you will be required to tear down what needs to be renovated and replace it with stronger materials. This can feel like a crisis when your abilities are tested and you reach that point where you dig deep for the grit to endure the reconstruction.
Grit is what separates successful people from their competition. Grit is not knowing what to do, but doing it anyway. It is endurance, conviction, and pluckiness. It will take you where you want to go when change starts to feel like a crisis.
Here is how to develop grit in times of crisis:
- Know when to stop struggling
There is a difference between knowing when to quit and knowing when to stop the struggle against something that we cannot stop. When we quit, we throw in the towel, admit defeat, and feel like a victim of our circumstances.
If we stop the struggle, we face up to our fear. “What is the worst that could happen?” This is the first step toward detecting new possibilities that may reveal themselves in our circumstances.
How to make it work for you: Do not quit when you feel you can no longer deal with a crisis. Instead, find ways to adapt to your new circumstances. Have the grit to stay in the game but be flexible in your attempt to correct a situation, according to your idea of “right.”
- Manage Your Emotions
When facing a crisis, emotional incompetence is a temptation and we share our sorrows with anyone who will listen. To those who have created our crisis, it’s an admission that they have the power to hurt us. If the people who are listening are outsiders, they are helpless to offer us sound advice on how to move forward.
This doesn’t mean you should ignore and stamp down what you are feeling! Emotional competence is one of the cornerstones of mental toughness. If we are emotionally intelligent and aware of our innermost emotions, we have a much better chance of responding to a crisis in a way that is positive.
How to make it work for you: If you manage your emotions, thoughts, and behavior during a crisis, you will have a better chance of recognizing new opportunities as they unfold.
- Keep Your Ego In Check
Our ego takes a beating when the “shit hits the fan’ and we find ourselves up to our knees in it. No one likes to suffer or face unpleasant situations. They are, however, a fact of life and if we can keep our ego in check, we can come through them stronger.
Everyone knows how to survive in good times. That doesn’t take any talent. It’s the trying times that separate those who have what it takes to succeed from those who just project the image.
How to Make It Work For You: Developing grit is a quality that is essential for our personal growth. We take responsibility for our actions. When we stop whining, pointing fingers, and blaming others—especially during a crisis—we are able to choose our destiny.
- Maintain your clarity of vision
Vision is where you see your life heading. Goals are the stepping stones to get there. Goals should be reviewed and revised on a yearly basis. If you don’t, goals can end up obstructing your original vision for yourself.
Vision and passion are the linchpin of grit. It is doing something and following a dream that gives you both value and meaning.
How to make it work for you: When you feel your grit begin to waver, remember the reason you want to accomplish your goal. If you surrender and give up, ask yourself if it’s because there is no fire in your belly and you are not really following your vision.
- Develop an entrepreneurial mindset
Most interviews or studies of entrepreneurs only look at people who have been successful. They rarely focus on asking questions about what made them successful in the first place. It’s very difficult for people to describe themselves at the beginning of their career. Most of us could not remember what was going through our mind, especially if we’re scrambling to keep our company afloat.
In a recent study, researchers interviewed over 800 entrepreneurs who had not been in business for more than 3 months. They found two commonalities in the thinking of the most successful entrepreneurs: 1) they could not come up with reasons they might fail, and 2) they couldn’t care less what people think about them.
How to make it work for you: Find something that makes you happy and go for it. At the end of the day, the way you feel about yourself and your potential will give you confidence that you can develop grit which you will need in times of crisis.
Paul Lyons is an experienced CEO who coaches leaders to improve their performance and wellbeing by developing their mindset. To learn more about building your mental toughness contact Paul or Mental Toughness Partners.