In the 2010 remake of True Grit, Arkansas farm girl Mattie Ross sets out on a quest to track down her father’s murderer. Knowing her journey will take her over tough terrain and across the paths of some ornery dudes, the feisty 14-year-old enlists the help of a boozy, trigger-happy lawman named Rooster Cogburn.
“They tell me you’re a man with true grit,” Mattie says to Cogburn, whom she somehow figures is just the man for the job, despite outward appearances. Later joined by a Texas Ranger on the trail of the same outlaw, Mattie, Cogburn and the Ranger each has his or her grit tested in different ways.
Similarly, our own grit (call it perseverance, resolve or steadfastness, if you like) is tested on a regular basis. Dr. Angela Duckworth, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and the founder and CEO of Character Lab, is well-respected on the topic of grit and how to build more of it. In her book “Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance,” she writes: “Where talent counts once, effort counts twice.” In fact, she has reduced her research findings to the following formula:
Talent x Effort = Skill
Skill x Effort = Achievement
So, how do superintendents and other managers of golf courses and clubs develop more grit to achieve more of their goals? Here are seven suggestions:
- Start by doing what interests you. If grit is a result of passionate commitment, it is wise to choose a field or projects that matter to you. Choose a field and pursue accomplishments worthy of your best efforts. You know the old saying: Make your job your hobby, and you’ll never work a day in your life.
- Surround yourself with gritty, determined people. In his story of incredible survival against the ravages of the Antarctic sea, Earnest Shackleton noted that it was the dogged determination of key crew members that made the difference in living and surviving. Likewise, acclaimed management guru Jim Collins advises managers to get the right people on the bus with you and see that they are in the right seats.
- Establish a clear-cut plan of action. Managing others requires that all involved fully understand and support the plan. Educate, inform and paint the picture of the successful outcome. Reiterate goals and objectives continually. Commit the plan to writing and support it with visual cues wherever appropriate and possible. One finds his or her way home when remembering clearly what “home” means to them.
- Dare to succeed. Fear of failure is called atychiphobia in the scientific community. The antidote is courage, which can be learned and developed. Push beyond your comfort zone. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do something that scares you every day.” Some managers are afraid of failing or appearing to be a “failure.” Be brave and strive for higher, bigger and better goals. These goals should be a core part of your plan.
- Be conscientious. Pursue goals in a consistent and resolute manner. Do the right things right and help those around you to do the same. Learn from small losses along the way; celebrate wins in their time. Revisit your goals daily and remind people why they’re important to the bigger picture.
- Prepare for and embrace difficulty. Peyton Manning practiced throwing wet footballs, knowing there would be rainy Sundays. Golfers at Oklahoma State University are taught to relish bad weather with the certainty that they will be better prepared than their competition. Bad weather or poor conditions become a competitive advantage to that mindset. OSU’s longtime golf coach, Labron Harris, taught his players that one must put his hands close to the fire if you want to get warm.
- Pursue excellence. Perfection is often unattainable, while excellence is an attitude that rewards the determined few. Faithfully pursuing excellence enables successful results and an emboldened team. It was Aristotle who wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
Similarly, grit is not an act as much as it is a habit, an attribute that can be more fully developed with careful thought and advance planning. About you, would they say: “They tell me you’re someone with true grit?”