Peak Mind Pro: How to Help Others Develop Grit

Feb 21, 2023
help others develop grit

Who would you rather have on your team: the person with the natural talent, the one with the highest intellect, or the person with the most grit? 

I hope you opted for the gritty one.

While our culture tends to value natural talent and innate intellectual ability, the reality is that grit beats both when it comes to predicting successful outcomes.

Looking at a wide range of people and settings - military, schools, sales, corporations, artists, athletes - study after study demonstrates that grit contributes more to success. 


What is grit? 

Simply put, grit is the ability to persist in the face of difficulty. It's passion plus perseverance for long-term goals. The embodiment of a growth mindset, grit is a strength that allows people to be resilient, continuing forward momentum toward their high level goals after hitting setbacks and roadblocks. Grit protects against giving up in the face of discouragement, and it provides endless drive. 

Gritty people are who you want on your teams. 

Fortunately, grit is also something that can be developed. 


Helping Others Develop Grit

If you are in a position to influence someone, whether that's as a leader, people manager, colleague, parent, or partner, you can help others grow grit.

Think of the mentors, teachers, coaches, bosses, and leaders who brought out the best in you. Consider the ones who pushed you to be your best, to reach levels you didn't know were possible, and to not give up when it got tough. They were most likely demanding of you but also expressed unwavering confidence in your ability to rise to the challenge. In other words, they fostered your grit through their psychological wisdom. 

Managing others with psychological wisdom means being both demanding and supportive. 



To foster grit, you must hold and set high expectations. For better or worse, people often meet the expectations set for them. For example, in several classic studies, teachers were deliberately misled about their students' abilities (either being told they had high or low learning potential, despite the students being chosen at random, with no basis for the label). By the end of the year, the supposedly gifted students outperformed their peers, despite starting with equal abilities. The teachers' high expectations pushed the students' performance to a higher level. So, set high expectations for those you are trying influence. 



At the same time, psychologically wise managers (leaders, teachers, parents) are also supportive. They express confidence in others' abilities to overcome obstacles and achieve at higher levels. They believe that their people are capable of reaching those high standards, and they express that belief directly, with warmth, encouragement, respect, and support.

This juxtaposition of expectation and encouragement, pushing while supporting, helps others develop grit.


Actionable Tips 

Read the feedback comments below. The first in each set is commonly used wording, the second fosters grit. Then, consider how you might tweak your own wording or modify interactions with your teams to strike the demanding yet supportive balance. 

  • You're a natural! vs. You worked really hard to master those skills.
  • You make this look easy! vs. I appreciate how much effort and care you took to get this done well. 
  • This isn't good enough. vs. This is what I expect, and I know you can do this.
  • This isn't up to our standards. vs. I have really high standards for the quality of our work, and I am confident that you can produce at that level. 
  • I need you to fix this/do this again. vs. I need you to fix this, and I'm telling you directly because I know you can be successful. 


Additional Resources

If you are interested in learning more ways to develop your team's psychological strength, resilience, and mental wellbeing, we'd love to talk. Our engaging workshops and "bitable" digital trainings ( as in short but packing a big punch) are an effective way to equip your teams with the skills necessary for success in all facets of life.

Some of our most popular offerings include:

  • Mindfulness: It's Not What You Think
  • Stress Management
  • Unlocking Your Full Potential
  • Thriving Through Uncertainty

Contact us here or at [email protected] to learn more. 


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With effort, talent becomes skill and, at the very same time, effort makes skill productive...As much as talent counts, effort counts twice."
 - Angela Duckworth

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