The Power of Grit

shutterstock_195159665What does it take to make it in this world? Is it good luck? Maybe. Could it be a high I.Q.? Perhaps. What about good looks? Hmmmm. Don’t forget personality and social skills! Definitely couldn’t hurt.

I’m convinced that each of these are part of the equation, but what if you aren’t naturally gifted in any of these things? Are you just one of the unfortunate ones doomed to a life of frustrating futility? I don’t think so.

I was listening to Angela Duckworth’s talk on TED.com about success and found a key that explained my experience better than anything else. She argued that more than any other factor “grit” made the difference between long-term success and failure.

When we first opened CrossFit Regeneration, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. The jump from personal trainer and avid CrossFitter to gym owner was much bigger than I had anticipated. On paper, I was qualified. I had graduated from a high-level business school, but nobody told me that life in the real world doesn’t translate as easily as my B’s would have indicated.

If I had a mentor before we opened, they would have probably advised me against the business owner track in favor of carving out my own niche as a Coach in an already existing gym. They would see me studying pull-up progressions in my spare time instead of marketing trends and accurately label me as a Coach, not a businessman.

But against my imaginary mentor’s advice, I did it. I made the jump. I made the financial jump, the career jump and the emotional jump into the scary, sink or swim land of entrepreneurship. And then I burned the bridge behind me.

Angela defined “grit” as sticking with your future, day in and day out. Not just for the week, not just for the month, but also for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is undeterred by failure, setbacks or frustration. It’s passion, perseverance and stamina for a very long time.

This resonated with me. I had plenty of failures, setbacks and frustrations. I was an excellent Coach, but I was failing as a businessman. I had no problem helping my athletes get into great shape, but on the other hand, I had no idea how to make sure the company was getting into shape. I knew I couldn’t give up. My family was depending on me to ensure the success of this gym. This meant 90-hour weeks and studying business books. This meant finding a mentor or two. This meant sacrificing valuable time with friends and family that I’ll never get back. We didn’t take a paycheck until we’d been in business for 6 months. It was $500 dollars.

It was a start, but I knew I needed help. After getting a little assistance from a few advisors and mentors, we were able to create a system that has produced a steady income for my family as well as jobs for my expanding staff team. We’ve also had to upgrade our facility to accommodate the larger population of customers who are coming in for one or more of our growing menu of options. We’re making money, and our members love their experience here.

We definitely haven’t arrived, and I know that I still have much more to learn about running a successful gym, but I think that we’re out of the dark. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. I’ve developed a love for business over the last few years without seeing my love of helping people diminish. The point of this article isn’t to toot any kind of personal horn, but to point out what’s possible with grit.

If you are struggling as a businessman or woman, reach out for help. Bear down and endure. Become a learner. Take risks. Stick with your future. After all, when it’s all said and done, maybe your grit is all you have, and that’s OK.

Charlie Sims was the owner of CrossFit Regeneration in Louisville, Kentucky.