4 Inspiring Principles to Develop More Grit

Interview with Jon Gordon

Episode Description

It was hard not to root for the Cubbies during the World Series earlier this month. (Sorry, Indians fans.)

Down 3-1 in a 7-game series, and then rallying past a worthy opponent to end a 108-year title drought? Good grief. I’d say it’s a story made for Hollywood, but the ending would seem too far-fetched!

But if you were watching, you saw it. The grit. The resilience. The never-give-up attitude that kept those guys going even when the odds were stacked against them.

But where does that kind of grit come from?

And how can we tap into it for our companies and our lives as business leaders?

In this new episode of the Building a Story Brand podcast, I sat down with Jon Gordon to talk about it.

And this guy knows his stuff. His principles of motivation and success have been tested and proven by pro sports teams and Fortune 500 companies. I really want him to go help out my Seahawks, but I digress.

There is a wealth of inspiration waiting for you in this episode! Give it a listen today.


According to the research Jon’s seen, “grit” is the #1 predictor and factor of success. But how on earth can we be more, uh, “gritty?” Here are four keys to developing it:

Key #1: Cast a Big Vision.

I’m not the handiest guy around, but I know that any big project starts with a plan.

You’ve got to have a vision of what you’re going to create.

And this is mission critical for us as business leaders.

Jon calls this “pulling out your telescope.” It’s getting a long-range view of where you want to go. It’s looking up at the Milky Way and dreaming big. As he says:

“If you have a vision then you also have the power to make it happen. That vision helps you see what you’re building.”

If you skip this step, life will get you down. Being in business means facing rejection and disappointment. It’s part of the game. You’ll lose a big account. Your new product will flop. You’ll get tired and discouraged. And without that big-picture inspiration to keep you going, you’re much more likely to give up.

Key #2: Embrace Optimism.

Of course, if you’re mortal, here’s what happens when you establish a vision. As soon as you write it down, you get hit with fear. I don’t have what it takes to pull this off. I’m going to crash and burn. And everybody is going to see it.

Sure, it sounds inspirational to point to the top of a mountain and say, “Hey, let’s go up there!”

But then you start hiking.

And it’s not too long before your feet start aching and blistering in places you didn’t realize they could blister.

What gets you up the mountain is optimism.

Jon gives us two pieces of advice if optimism doesn’t come naturally to you.

First, your worldview matters. In his words, “How you see the world determines the world that you see.” When you believe the world is for you, you’re more likely to find that to be true.

Second, be thankful. Jon reminded me of a piece of research that says you can’t be stressed out AND thankful at the same time.

I did a little more digging, and a lot of it comes from Dr. Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at UC Davis. Here’s an excerpt from one of his essays:

“Consciously cultivating an attitude of gratitude builds up a sort of psychological immune system that can cushion us when we fall. There is scientific evidence that grateful people are more resilient to stress, whether minor everyday hassles or major personal upheavals.”

Finally, don’t let negative people into your life. They’ll drain your energy. This powerful quote from Gandhi sums it up beautifully: “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”

I’ll be honest. I’m a recovering pessimist. My default is cynicism. But then to my delight I find this driving faith that, nope, God needs me to do something really good. I get to participate in it and it’s going to keep getting better. It’s gotten me through the hardest, darkest times.

Key #3: Show Up Every Day to Hone Your Craft

We talked about the importance of the telescope, but that’s only half the picture.

You also need what Jon calls the “microscope” — to get narrowly focused on doing the daily grind well. In his words, that means “showing up every day, seeing what needs to be done here and now today. You have to work on being great today in order to create greatness tomorrow.”

Too much telescope and you’re dreaming all day. Too much microscope and you lose sight of the big goal. It takes both to succeed.

You’ve got to commit to the kind of hard work that will grow your craft. What “craft” means looks different for each of us. Maybe it’s graphic design. Maybe it’s the art of people management. Maybe it’s quality assurance. Whatever it is, when you strive to be better at it every day, it really does add up to a masterpiece.

It reminds me a lot of my interview earlier this year with PGA golfer Ben Crane, when he said, “Tomorrow’s great performance is today’s great habit.”

Key #4: Care Deeply.

We have a saying here at StoryBrand.

The day you stop losing sleep over the business and start losing sleep over your customers’ lives is the day your business will grow.

In other words, are you worried about yourself or are you worried about your customers? When business leaders care about their customers’ successes, their businesses explode.

And Jon is with me on this. Don’t focus on growing your business. Focus on loving, serving, and caring for your customers and your staff, and your business will grow.

Wisdom absolutely pours out of Jon Gordon, and what I really love about his perspective is that it’s equally applicable in our businesses as it is in our lives.

So I know this week’s podcast is going to help you grow your business, but it might also help you finally start exercising or quit a bad habit.

Give it a listen and I know it’ll be one of the most inspiring parts of your week.

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Podcast produced by: Tim Schurrer
Additional editing by: Nick Jaworski

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