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‘Grit’ is a colloquial term we use to express persistence and the capacity to push through.  In the context of the Adaptability Quotient, it has a much more specific meaning.  Being adaptable is strongly correlated with your capability in Grit.

Although people often talk about Grit as an aspect of somebody’s character, within the AQ framework Grit is something that you can develop and build.  It’s something which you can grow and learn to do better.

Grit in the Adaptability Quotient

How is Grit defined within the Adaptability Quotient framework?

Within the Ability dimension of AQ, Grit is a sub-dimension.  Within the measure of your overall response to the challenge of change, Grit is strongly associated with your capacity to reach goals in the face of obstacles.  This is different than the typical ‘completer finisher’ trait that is valued in certain roles.  Completer finishers are usually recognised for their thorough completion of individual tasks.  Grit measures your commitment to goals that matter to you.  It measures your pursuit of a passion, a deeply desired outcome over an extended period of time.  You might imagine that Grit measures your ability to get to the end of a 5K race.  Pushing on, carrying on.  Even when you stumble and fall getting up and going forward.  But this is misunderstanding Grit as the completion of a task.  A better example is holding the passion to run a marathon and then continually doing the training, maintaining and building the habit of morning runs.  Doing the fitness training, when perhaps you are injured, getting the physiotherapy that you need.  Rebuilding your strength.  When the date of your marathon is shifted because of a pandemic, Grit is still scheduling to go back and do it next year.  It’s that commitment to pursuing and achieving a long-term goal that you are passionate about.

Causes of low Grit

When I interview people whose Grit score is low, it’s often because they’re aren’t really passionate about longer term goals for what they’re doing at work.  Remember, the Adaptability Quotient score is measured in relation to your work environment.  If you’ve slightly fallen out of love with your career or slightly fallen out of love with the purpose of the organisation, or you don’t really believe in the mission that you’ve been given in a particular role, then that is likely to undermine your Grit.

To strengthen your Grit, in this case, you need to re-align your working life so that your purpose, mission and passion are aligned to the outcomes you are pursuing.

On the other hand, if you are passionate about outcomes but you find that too often, you don’t complete things when you get to the first significant hurdle, then there are some tools and techniques you can develop to strengthen your Grit.

Strengthening your Grit

One of the key things is to break down that big goal into a set of much smaller and more achievable tasks.  To build up that habit at the micro-level of getting things done and changing the stakes from a big ‘all or nothing’ e.g.  ‘Will I run the marathon?’, ‘Will I complete that marathon?’  Instead play for lower stakes: ‘Will I do my training sessions, five days out of seven this week?’ ‘Will I make sure that I’ve shifted my diet so that it’s going to support my training ambitions with one different meal a day?’ As you build up these habits you will strengthen your Grit and enhance your ability to achieve long term goals.

There’s another aspect of building Grit, which is often under recognised.  If you intentionally writing down in detail, the outcome that you hope for, then the more clarity you have about the outcome, the more you can visualise it.  Imagine yourself in it.  Feel the sensations of what it’s going to be like.  For example, in relation to the marathon, imagine the outcome as you cross the finishing line.  Imagine the roaring crowds.  Imagine the medal around your neck.  Imagine the fundraising achievement you’ve made.  Imagine the encouragement that you have from all your friends and supporters.  Imagine how you’re feeling now that you’ve done it.

Picture the finishing line. Picture the run down the Pall of the London Marathon.  Watch previous years’ marathons.  Imagine yourself in that place.  Develop your belief that completion is achievable.  Often that’s about breaking it down into smaller achievable goals.  If you’re going to spend a year planning to run the marathon, then perhaps for the first month all you’re going to do is go on a park run, where the ambition is to complete the distance, nothing to do with speed.  Nothing to do with whether you’re beating other people.  Just doing it.

This will strengthen your belief.  Achieving those longer term aims relies on living in the outcome and believing that it’s available to you

Does it matter if your Grit is High or Low?

I think it does.  When I come across people who in some area of their life, feel that they can never push through, they don’t believe they can achieve the outcome they want.  Then they are starting to lose hope.  They’re moving from learned optimism, to learned hopelessness.

If your Grit is low then, I would strongly encourage you to do the work to strengthen it.

If necessary, change your role, or change your employer, or change the way that you are engaged in your working life.  But ultimately it is developing Grit that will make you more adaptable as the world around you changes faster and faster. 

To learn more about how you can increase your adaptability contact


Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.