Tips for Building Grit
1. Race your strengths and train your weaknesses. Top performers choose to work on their weaknesses while amateurs choose to practice what they're already good and what is comfortable. Turning a weakness into a strength is incredibly frustrating because one is repeatedly exposed to shortcomings through the process of failure. Grittier athletes don’t give up and return to the comfort of working on a strength.
a. Two Michael Jordan quotes come to mind with this concept
i. My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.
ii. Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, and others make it happen.
2. Focus on what you are doing. Do not obsess on what you are not doing. For some athletes this is a problem when they constantly think about playing for a better team, playing a different position, or getting more playing time. Although these goals are important, this obsessive thinking can be very distracting and disheartening. I often tell players to use each workout, training session, scrimmage, and game as an opportunity to be a little better than the previous day. This mental framework helps ground athletes to the present, remain motivated, and limits obsessing over what he/she is not doing.
3. Find the inherent pride that comes with perseverance and hard work. Athletes who are preparing for deliberate practice are often derailed before they even start because of dwindling motivation and effort. They are only thinking about how much the workout is going to suck. They are hyper focused on the muscles burning, being out of breath, being uncomfortably hot, feet hurting, or the boring monotony of repetitious practice. Then when they are actually engaged in deliberate practice, all of their attention remains directed toward the sensations of feeling the agony and suffering. This makes deliberate practice feel awful, motivation and effort drops, and the athlete either gives up early or half-asses the workout by going through the motions. Many athletes I’ve worked with have never even considered the good feeling of pride that emerges with a tough work out. They either never think about it or they only briefly think about it after the workout. It can be incredibly motivating and energizing to focus attention on the positive gains of getting stronger, faster, and better while one is working out. This more positive outlook allows athletes to train harder and for longer periods of time.
“The successful person is the individual who forms the habit of doing what the failing person does not like to do.” - Donald Griggs