According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, grit in the context of behavior is defined as “firmness of character; indomitable spirit.” Duckworth, based on her studies, tweaked this definition to be “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”
This seems somehow too simplistic. Looking around at the people in my life whom I could rationally assign the characteristic of 'grit' simply having stamina, indomitable spirit, perseverance and I found plenty. More than just a few. And it became almost commonplace that most people I know have this elusive quality yet, in spite of that, only a few were ever admirably equipped with it.
Donald Trump has 'grit.' While his character is low, it is firm. While his long term goals are self-serving and egomaniacal, he has demonstrated stamina, indomitable spirit and a passion for them. He approaches the world with a show of extreme self confidence "I am the shit, ya'll" he shouts at the world as if by constantly reminding us that he is, indeed, the shit, we will believe it. And many do.
Perhaps it is just the personally held bias I have. I want to believe that 'grit' is an admirable quality larger than simple determination, a boast of self worth and an unstoppable bullying of those he decides are enemies.
I work out every morning at the Wicker Park Athletic Club. Prices are reasonable, lots of equipment and a city block from my apartment. I get there between 5:30am and 5:45am and nearly every day I see Him.
The muscle-bound guy who works out with a few buddies and when he lifts something heavy, he also feels the need to drop the weights hard and look at one of his squad and say "Fuck YOU! Lift that!" He grunts and strains and makes a huge show of his prowess. Last week he was wearing a t-shirt (with torn off sleeves to more appropriately demonstrate his bulging meat sacks with hands) that said "Resist THIS!"
I also see the other guy who is on the same schedule. This guy is FIT. Not cascading with rippling, showy heaps of testosterone but solid like a pit bull. All muscle, none of it wasted on show. He works out alone. He is focused and solid. He does pull ups with his feet wrapped around a 75-lb dumb bell. He works methodically and consistently. He never makes a noise - his workout is for him and not for some sort of pissing on his territory kind of display.
Grit IS firmness of character.
Grit is NOT grounded in a need to be recognized.
Grit IS an indomitable spirit.
Grit is NOT a litany of unending reminders to the audience how indomitable your spirit is.
Grit IS perseverance under hard circumstances.
Grit is NOT whining that things aren't fair.
Grit IS a passion for long term goals.
Grit is NOT a dogged pursuit of self-interest over everything else.
Strength of Will
Grit is NOT
Those with grit may have had troubles in their lives but they don't gasconade about overcoming them. The truly gritty manage to persevere without a billboard declaring their heroic efforts as something to be emulated. Those blessed with grit are never the hero of their own story.
If there is anything that I can learn from those whom I consider to be genuinely imbued with grit is that they are often strictly focused rather than vociferous. Dialed in rather than self proclaiming.
It is a lesson I need to practice more if only to live in contrast to the many incarnations of Donald Trumps in the world.