The Key To Start-Up Success: Grit

“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.”

If you’ve ever spoken to a founder of a start-up, you know that business owners and founders make mistakes. Heaps of them. In fact, some write books about their professional messes in order to inspire and motivate others.

The key aspect that most of these stories have in common is that these founders and business owners were not afraid to fail; they had optimism and, more importantly, they had grit. They weren’t afraid to get back up on the horse and start again.

Professionals face rejection every day of their careers. Your pitch gets thrown out by your boss, or your op-ed piece doesn’t quite make the cut for your college newspaper. No matter what field, level of education, or background, you will face rejection and defeat in your academic and professional career.

Your ability to overcome that rejection, however, is dependent only on you.

Successful people break away from the rest of the flock by pitching a new idea. By writing another op-ed piece that makes the front page. University of Pennsylvania Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth talks about the relationship between success and grit; that is, the relationship between success and a person’s ability to bounce back from rejection.

In her TED talk, Duckworth mentions that “grittier kids are significantly more likely to graduate” despite family income, feelings of security and safety, and standardized testing. Their level of success is purely dependent on them and doesn’t come from their family background or nationality.

Duckworth notes that though science isn’t completely sure how people should go about developing grit, Duckworth has determined that grit, or the ability to deal with and move on from rejection, can be inversely correlated to measures of talent. You don’t have to be a commercial or commerce genius to develop and build a startup that is successful. Instead, try adopting a “growth mindset.”

Growth mindset is the belief that the ability to learn is flexible and can change depending on your effort. Learning about learning—that is, learning about how the brain reacts and grows to new concepts and ideas—creates a mindset that failure is not a permanent condition.

Your start-up company won’t always be a start-up. One thing that business founders have in common across the board is that they are business founders. They have faced rejection and difficulties but have persevered through challenges in order to grow and become successful.

If you’re having trouble getting your business off the ground, or even if you can’t find the motivation to pitch yet another lame idea, think about what occurs every time you fail: you learn something new. You learn something new about your boss, about an aspect of your start-up. You learn about your strengths and weaknesses and can fine-tune them to adapt and grow in your environment. You grow a thicker skin and can handle rejection more fluidly and more effectively, thus growing as both a professional and as a person.


Image courtesy of TED.




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