Thursday, August 6, 2015

Secrets of success: Develop your grit like a SEAL

Secrets of success
Develop your grit like a Navy SEAL

I've posted about grit as the key to success before. The nice thing about grit is that you can increase it through practice! If you want to be successful, you'll need a good helping of grit-so it's helpful to start practicing now!

Picture courtesy Navy SEAL website:

Now, you learn how to enhance your grit, courtesy of a Navy SEAL:

The highlights:

-Intrinsic motivation is critical. That's why so many people recommend pursuing your passion, rather than pursuing high-paying careers. If you're doing what you're doing because you love it, you're more likely to keep pushing until you succeed. If you're pursuing a career because it pays well, you're probably going to give up when things get tough.

-Preparation is key. As an anonymous SEAL reportedly said, "Under pressure, you don't rise to the occasion; you sink to the level of your training."

This is also one of the many mantras of NFL head coach Chip Kelly, as reported in various outlets like Philly magazine, the excellent website Iggles Blitz, and even in a press conference (featured on the Eagles' website). Coach Kelly even said that back when he was the head coach of the Oregon football team, as recorded by Oregon Live.

It should be noted that Kelly's record as head coach at Oregon was 46-7, which means his college teams won over 6 times as many games as they lost! To date (before the 2015 NFL season), his record as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles is 20-12 in the regular season, leading the team to two consecutive 10-6 seasons (after taking over a team that went 4-12 in 2012, the season before Kelly was hired). Whether you like him or not--or even if you don't care about sports--I think Chip Kelly's record demonstrates that he knows a thing or two about achieving success on the gridiron.

-Focus on improvement. As Stanford researcher Carol Dweck shows, some people look at failure as the end of a story that cannot be changed...but successful people look at failure as an opportunity to learn from the failure and improve next time. Angela Duckworth, the University of Pennsylvania researcher who proposed grit as a psychological trait worthy of study, found a strong link between grit and growth mindset.

Coach Chip Kelly is reportedly familiar with Dweck's research on growth mindset, and seeks players who share that mindset. [If you're not a football fan, I apologize for all the Chip Kelly references. Can you tell I'm excited for the NFL season to start? I post stuff about football and the Philadelphia Eagles on my other, infrequently-updated blog, Weapon E.]

-Your success depends on others. So don't be afraid to lend help, and don't be too prideful to accept it. After all, if SEALs help each other, it's clearly not "weak" to get help!

-Be confident. Paralysis or panic don't help situations. Prepare intensely; once you've done this, trust your training. That's why the most successful people train so hard in their specific fields, from NFL players to martial artists, astronauts to special forces soldiers, Ph.D. students to CEOs.

Success requires experience, and training provides that experience. Once you've been through something a hundred times and you can see where it's most likely to go wrong, you'll understand how to deal with it. Many business leaders tell people, "trust your gut." This can be disastrous if you don't know what you're doing--but with the benefit of experience, your gut feeling probably results from the expertise you've acquired through practice.

That expertise leads to a sense of confidence and control, even under pressure. In turn, your calmness and confidence in the face of a pressure-filled situation inspires others to follow you. That's often what people mean when they cite someone's 'leadership skills.'

They don't teach you this stuff in high school or college, but you tend to acquire it over the course of your life. Many people wish they knew this stuff much earlier--so here's your chance to develop these skills now!

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