A Must-Read for Sales: Grit by Angela Duckworth

August 15, 2018  |  Posted by in Recommended Reading

Why Being “Gritty” Will Drive Sales Success

Talent and intelligence are extremely helpful in pursuing success, but these are not as important nor as predictive of high achievement as is a characteristic known as “grit.” That is the assertion of author Angela Duckworth in her book, Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Duckworth’s credibility is bolstered by her impressive academic and professional resume, as well as her extensive research on non-IQ competencies that drive success.

In her TED Talks presentation, Duckworth said she first took note of the proportional roles of IQ, talent and effort in achievement while teaching seventh grade math. Her observation was that the most intelligent students were not necessarily the highest performing, nor were the high performing students the most intelligent. At a glance, it would appear that “effort” was the differentiating factor, but Duckworth has further diagnosed the driver of great success as passion and perseverance toward long-term goals – her precise definition of “grit.” We are not likely to persevere unless we feel passion toward a vocation or cause. Passion drives perseverance, as Duckworth observes, “Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”

It is a message with particular relevance to professional sales – a career in which failure is inevitable and resilience is a daily requirement. Duckworth contends that individuals with grit not only survive failures, but are actually strengthened by them; for these individuals, failure fuels future success. This dynamic speaks to our mindset in approaching challenges. We can either view setbacks and failures as roadblocks, or we can view them as stepping stones – a foundation of insight and experience upon which to build future success.

“To be gritty is to fall down seven times, and rise eight.”

Duckworth’s point isn’t to dismiss the role of talent in achievement; she recognizes that talent is extremely helpful. Her point is that passion and perseverance are at least as strong of contributors to success as IQ or talent, but are too often overlooked.

What are the key takeaways for sales professionals? There are two: First, it is essential that we place rejection and other setbacks in proper perspective and see them for what they are: part of a long-term learning process and building blocks for success. Second, we must focus on the role of passion and perseverance in our sales careers. That means cultivating our passion for what we do. What part of selling inspires you? Is it the art of influence? Your impact in driving customer success? The manner in which your products/services can change lives?  We should also look for opportunities to leverage our personal passions in our professional lives as a means to strengthen our spirit and resolve, establish common ground with customers and team members, and cultivate those all-important personal relationships.

Unlike IQ and natural talent, our effort and tenacity are factors of success over which we have complete control. It only makes sense we should leverage these, along with our passion, to drive high achievement and sales excellence.

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