Dove Nest Group

Developing Grit

True GRIT, why we need it and how to develop it

Anxiety, pace of life, smartphones, constantly checking social media, the gap between real life and idealised online lives, increasing financial instability, loneliness, social isolation, less job security, increasing retirement age, stress, instability, mental health. If these are characteristics of modern life, then now we need GRIT more than ever before. This week’s post covers True GRIT and how to develop it.

Grit – what is it?

One definition of grit is, courage and determination in spite of difficulty. Grit is what it takes to get us through the tough times. It is a passion for a long-term goal, or state which means we can push through the immediate difficulties, to realise that end state. Most of us instantly recognise this definition, and use it as synonymous with determination. Very few would argue that you can’t achieve a goal without demonstrating grit.

However, there is another popular meaning for Grit, namely small loose particles of sand or stone. At first glance, we might question what on earth this type of grit, have to do with success?

If we think of grit as an irritant, it can also help us to re-frame how we look at adversity. Although a cliché, there is something we can take away from the example of the grit irritating the oyster. It is around the grit that the oyster forms a pearl. From Benjamin Franklin to JK Rowling, from Albert Einstein to Oprah Winfrey, there are plenty of high profile examples of individuals who showed grit; overcoming adversity to realise success. Perhaps then success doesn’t only come in spite of adversity, but also as a direct result of it.

Why do we need it?

Grit, according to Time, is one of the 8 things the world’s most successful people have in common

Successful organisations need talented individuals and teams. Talent programmes have long been deployed to attract, develop and retain those people seen as most talented by the organisation.

But what identifies the talented, talented? Aptitude and abilities, academic achievement and Intelligence have often been indicators and potential predictors of successful performance.  More recently, emotional intelligence has also been added to that list of desirable if not essential qualities for success. However, given the volatile and increasingly challenging nature of work, it could be that Grit needs to be added to the list for success.

One client, particularly forward thinking in this area, recognised the value of helping their best and brightest executives develop the grit they will need throughout their career. This blue-chip client; a well-known brand in consultancy and professional services, invited Dove Nest to work with them to help develop Grit in their organisation. At the end of 2017 we began the roll out of True GRIT.


Last November saw Dove Nest launch a new solution: True GRIT.    Being in the learning and development business, we recognised the value of a well-fitting acronym. Thankfully, the four key areas of focus in our solution, slotted neatly into place.

Developing Grit model

To provide a comprehensive solution, the scope of the programme was expanded beyond that of just persistence in the face of difficulty. The objective was more holistic than that.

The aim is to develop grit as more than just a temporary stance, but rather as part of an overall perspective. To do so means looking at it as a combination of several different dimensions: being grounded, being resilient, maintaining integrity and tenacity.

Developing the skills of feeling grounded can help provide a stable point during chaotic, unpredictable or stressful times. Literally, providing an anchor in stormy seas. If we are to ride out the worst of the storm, then we need to feel secured in at least one point.

Resilience is a recurring theme when it comes to wellbeing at work. That ability to bounce back is a critical part of developing grit: it provides the strength to both recognise a setback, then move on from it.

Perhaps surprisingly, integrity is an essential element of the Grit programme. Being asked to do something at work which is directly at odds with our values can cause considerable conflict and stress. In contrast, we can be at our best when our behaviour is consistent with the values that we hold.

Tenacity is clearly a critical element to developing grit. Not giving up in the face of obstacles, but persisting, in the knowledge that over time, we will overcome them.

This approach, looking at different dimensions to develop overall grit, seems to be delivering results. Feedback from learners has been that the 4 dimensions of grit resonates with them and has helped develop practical strategies to increase their grit.

Suggestions for developing your GRIT

To get the best from this approach to GRIT, you would need to sign up to the programme. However, we can share with you some high-level suggestions for developing your GRIT.

1 – Its not just being “a dog with a bone” Tenacity is at its best when combined with reflection, insight and experimentation. Doing the same thing, repeatedly, and expecting a different result, is a definition of madness.

2 – Authenticity is the key. Although we can develop our personal GRIT, we shouldn’t try to be someone we’re not.

3 – Being grounded really helps. You may be Sales Director of a multi-million organisation, but you’re also someone’s sister, brother, daughter, son, father, mother, friend. That can help park the pressures.

4 – Resilience can improve with perspective. Its not about avoiding failures, its about recognising them, accepting them, then moving on.

The True GRIT programme is proving very popular and I have every confidence that it, like the learners on the programme, will continue to develop and evolve.

On a simple level, demonstrating grit helps individuals overcome obstacles. But, like the pearl in the oyster, grit can also be the imperfection instrumental to success.

If you’d like to know more about True GRIT, how we do it and what it might deliver for you, please get in touch with us. Or if you’d just like to talk to us about leadership, development and learning, call us on 015395 67878, email us at or visit our website