Grit is good, but don't be a slave to it.

Thanks to the great work by Angela Duckworth, we have learnt to better appreciate "grit" and its contribution to personal success. Grit, according to Duckworth, can be defined as "passion and sustained persistence applied toward long-term achievement, with no particular concern for rewards or recognition along the way. It combines resilience, ambition, and self-control in the pursuit of goals that take months, years, or even decades."

How nice and powerful!

Taken at face value, grit seems to embody the ability to push through tough times, go against all odds and eventually, emerge (hopefully) as a personal war hero. One important point that is commonly overlooked, however, is the "when" — is the application of grit appropriate.

Grit get you to places. But... Where are we heading again?

There is no question that grit is an attitude that should be celebrated. Perhaps more than an attitude, it also embodies the sheer mental fortitude in being able to be unwavering in the face of adversity. In fact, it is often the case that a gritty person tends to favour a bias for action and remains persistent at times when others might have given up.

Yet, action does not always guarantee results. Charging straight into a dense forest does not get you out on the other side, or wherever you are hoping to go unless you are REALLY lucky. After all, the guaranteed product of hard work is not "exhaustion", not necessarily "satisfaction".

Simply put, we need direction before action.

Ok, the goals are clear. Can we just grit our way through?

Yes of course! This time you will definitely arrive.

BUT do know that this decision may cost you more hardship than you might actually need to experience.

Humour me as we continue our trek through the jungle (with clear directions this time)...

This time, we are faced with a crisis — the bridge that we are supposed to use has been destroyed. Now, we have two options: (1) stick to the planned route by taking the steep descent down the cliff, cross the rapids and scale back up the other end of the bridge, or (2) find an alternative route.

For a gritty person, this would probably be nothing too surprising — it's all but another obstacle to get over. She would probably spend no time getting ready and be on the way down that cliff while the less gritty ones second guess that decision.

So, who would arrive at the destination first?

Well, it could be either (or neither — if you are a horror fan and fancy a morbid end). But what I had hoped to illustrate in this fictitious journey is how grit may, on one hand, help people be more decisive but on the other, cause one to be reckless due to the insensitivity to pain and warnings of danger.

So, if you are a gritty person, NEVER let that mistaken belief that "no pain, no gain" coax you into signing up for the most challenging path. Yes, we may have decided to push through with hard work at times because we rather not lose momentum or expend energy to make new decisions. But at this time and age where everything is so volatile and uncertain, it actually pays for us to take momentary pauses to access our environment and course-correct ourselves to the optimal path.

But if you tend towards team II who err at the side of caution (or procrastination), we too can all learn from the gritters to just do it. After all, the hardest step tends to be the first.

As always, life is all about striking a balance. That's why: Grit is good, but don't be a slave to it.

Motivated by choice. Fuelled by grit.

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