Five Tips on how to Develop Your Grit

When I was asked to be a guest speaker at a women’s entrepreneur event and told I should pick a topic that I could speak about with some authority, I was stumped. I know a fair amount about a lot of different things, but what am I truly an expert at? Then it hit me like a bat to the back of the head. I’m an expert at dealing with rejection.

Perhaps that sounds like something I shouldn’t be proud of, but my expertise in this particular area has served me incredibly well as an entrepreneur as it has taught me some powerful lessons on what you need to be successful, and simply put that’s grit. 

In this blog, I’m going to give you five tips on how to develop your grit, but before we jump to that, let me share a personal story on how I became an expert in this area.

When I was a young woman I pursued a modeling career. I dreamed of doing the catwalk on runways around the world and posing for some of the biggest fashion magazines. I wanted to see the world, and modeling seemed to be a good ticket to make that happen. When I got my working visa for the States, I wasted no time, booked a flight to San Francisco, made three appointments with the top agents in the city and was on my way to fulfilling my destiny.

The first crushing blow came with that first meeting, where the appointed agent looked me up and down with a sneer on her face, flipped through my portfolio at lightning speed and then tossed it back and as she turned and walked away said, “You’ll never work in this city.” I left her office clinging to my portfolio, holding back the tears and trying to pull myself together for the next meeting that was in less than an hour. I raced back to my hotel, cried a bit, freshened my make up, put on a different outfit, because clearly, I was wearing the wrong thing, then out the door to my next devastating encounter. This time, the agent took a bit more time going through my book, and when he handed it back to me he said, “Anita, you’re pretty but the women at this agency are beautiful.” Wow. Back to the hotel, a bit more tears, more make-up and another outfit, out the door to my third and final appointment of the day. Breath, I can do this.

The office I walked into was buzzing with activity. There was an audition taking place at the agency and the waiting room was packed with gorgeous people. The agent came out and “interviewed” me right there, in the middle of all the chaos. He flipped through my portfolio and then asked me to walk, show him my runway style. All eyes turned to me as I strut my stuff through the waiting room, doing a little turn and hip sway at the end of my imagined runway. When I was done, the agent stood and asked me to follow him. In that moment all I could think was ‘oh Thank God, he has the decency to reject me in private.”

When we got to his office his wall was covered with beautiful photos of some of the top models of the day. Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford…  They were all represented by this agency.  He then proceeded to talk about some of these women I admired and said he would love to add me to their roster. Wait, what? Did I hear that right? Is there a hidden camera somewhere, are you having me on? He then pulled out a contract and started going through it with me. I don’t remember a word he said after that, but I signed that agreement and went on to have a pretty good modeling career that saw me off to Italy, Spain, Germany, and Japan.

There was a lot more rejection over the years, accompanied by some downright cruel behavior – the modeling industry is quite an ugly business actually, but it definitely served to toughen me up. I moved from modeling to acting (also a harsh industry) to making films, then to starting up my own film promotion agency (which I still do), and more recently I started up my own direct sales business in skincare.

What saw me through those years, and continues to serve me to this day as I build my network marketing business, is a fierce determination, and unwillingness to give up. Grit is defined as a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective.

This willingness to not give up has played a very significant role in my family life as well, and particularly in my relationship with my husband, and as anyone who has been in a long-term relationship can attest, you need a lot of grit to make even the best relationships work. About ten years ago, my husband and I were going through a particularly challenging time in our relationship – largely a product of not giving attention to each other. We became very good at the business of running our family, but we were slipping further and further apart as a couple. We both made a lot of mistakes during this time, some that were very hurtful, but fortunately we caught our selves and decided to fight for us before it was too late.

The following year was perhaps the most challenging I have ever experienced. It was full of tears, late night conversations, counseling sessions, and a ton of reading about having a healthy marriage. One thing that was clear was that we both deeply wanted to make our relationship work and we would do whatever it took to get there. In one of our late night discussions, we realized we needed to have a goal for us, something that got us both excited, something we could plan together, something we could work on together to make happen. That’s when we decided to move the family to France for a year. The following four years we planned, schemed, saved and as a family got really excited about this goal. 

To kick that year abroad off, we decided to start with a two-week trek through the Swiss Alps. That was an incredible bonding experience. We traversed over 160 km of rugged terrain, with daily altitude gains and descents averaging 2000 meters. My blisters were numerous and the size of toonies. I cried once, maybe twice, but at the end of it all the whole family felt unstoppable like we could do anything we put our minds too. That’s a wonderful feeling and it definitely took some grit on the whole family’s part to take on the Alps and to persevere through the challenges of the following year.  

Ok, so how do we develop your grit? I’ve got five tips for you, easy things you can do that if practiced regularly will help you become more grit worthy.

1) Develop an unwavering belief in yourself and what your future looks like.

I know what you are thinking, well how the heck do you do that? Here’s my trick:
Every morning spend five minutes writing about your future self-using present tense. See yourself as the successful person you want to become. What does she look like, how does she dress, how does she act, how does she spend her time, who are the people in her life, what car does she drive, what does her house look like. Get specific and spend just five minutes every day writing about this person. At night before you go to bed, read what you wrote that morning. Over time, you will become that person. The choices you make, the interactions you have will become more and more inline with that individual you want to be. Once you start believing you are that successful individual, then others around you will too and magic will happen. There is power in the written word. Use that power to your advantage.

2) Surround yourself with people who lift you up, who believe in you and who inspire you.
You are a product of the five people you spend the most time with, so take stock, cut the fact and spend time with those who are your supporters, who believe in you and who inspire you to be your best.

3) Find a mentor.
Look for at least one person who has the kind of success you want, watch what they do, observe how they behave in the world and do what they do. This could be someone you know personally, someone higher up in your business, or a public figure who you can follow on social media or read article or books about to learn from their experiences.

4) Be kind to yourself and understand that rejection is inevitable.
Everyone experiences rejection and disappointment at some point along their journey – some on a daily basis. What differentiates those who are truly successful and those who give up, is simply an unwillingness to accept defeat and the ability to get back up when pushed down. Acknowledging that you are not alone and this ‘rejection’ is simply a necessary step towards achieving success will make it easier. So let yourself feel the disappointment then let it go, move on. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Be kind to yourself. I shudder to think all that I would have given up, all the wonderful places I wouldn’t have experienced if I let that first agent get to me.

5) Keep Stepping out of your comfort zone
My final note on developing your grit is to constantly find ways to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself in situations where you may face rejection. If you are not experiencing some form of rejection on a regular basis I would like to suggest that you are living too comfortably and have not pushed yourself to your fullest potential. You are either not dreaming big enough or have given up on your dreams. Either is not good. The only way you will live that great life you deserve and dream of, is to step out of your comfort zone and into a position where you will meet with some rejection and resistance. By doing this, you will strengthen your grit muscle and what was once difficult will become easy and you will get closer to achieving your goals.

One more piece of advice.
Laugh! Laugh at your self, laugh at the world, just laugh. You must continue to bring light into your world and those around you. Find things that make you happy, be with people who make you clutch your belly with laughter. Laughing eases the pain of rejection, so even in those toughest days, find something to laugh at and carry on.

If you are interested in learning more on this subject, I strongly recommend that you pick up the book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth. It’s an excellent read.