You’re dying of thirst in the Sahara Desert.
Don’t ask me how you got there or why you don’t have a caravan full of camels and supplies to accompany you, just know that the average human body consists of 60% water and you’re only working with 10% right now.
Answer these questions:
- Would you drink water that was hot and unfiltered?
- Would you drink water that was dirty, muddy, or had bugs in it?
- Would you drink your own urine if it meant surviving for one more day and increasing the potential for rescue?
If you answered “No” to any of these questions, congratulations—you’re dead!
If you answered “Yes” however, you not only have the approval of survival expert Bear Grylls, but you also have the potential to become wealthy!
“You mean all I have to do is drink some hot, unfiltered water with some bugs in it and I can become a millionaire?”
Don’t forget about the urine! But essentially, yes.
Before you think of something snarky or sarcastic to say, let me first pose another scenario to you. The answers you provide this time will determine whether you are more or less inclined to become rich.
Let’s say you’re not dying of thirst—just feeling a little dehydrated.
It’s a hot summer’s day; your mouth is parched and your lips are chapped. Luckily, you’re not roaming aimlessly in the Sahara anymore. This time, you’re relaxing in the comfort of your own home, perhaps even watching Netflix. I’ll make you suffer a bit though: your air conditioning isn’t working!
- Would you still drink water that was hot and unfiltered?
- Would you still drink water that was dirty, muddy, or had bugs in it?
- Would you still drink your own urine?
My guess is, you’d drink the hot and unfiltered water—begrudgingly of course.
Now unless you’re truly the adventurous type, I would bet my bottom dollar you wouldn’t quench your thirst with water that had any semblance of dirt, sand, or bugs in it, am I right?
And for fear of being kicked out of your house, I’ll refrain from repeating the last option!
But what if I told you the more willing you were to answer yes to questions two and three, the greater predicted levels of success and wealth you’d have?
“Okay, enough with the cryptic (and disturbing) analogies! You’ve lead us on for long enough. What exactly are you talking about?”
Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth is an American psychologist who says:
“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future—day in, day out. Not just for the week; not just for the month; but for years. And working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
You can watch her 2013 Ted Talk which has been viewed more than 10 million times.
Hot & Unfiltered
For the vast majority of us, we drink the hot, unfiltered water by going to work every day. We may not particularly like the job or career that we’ve chosen, but we tolerate it. It’s definitely not our dream job (applying sunscreen to scantily clad supermodels) but it pays the bills, puts food on the table, and provides a roof over our heads—all of our basic needs. For most, that’s more than enough.
This is commonly known as the Rat Race.
Now that’s not to say there isn’t a certain level of perseverance involved in the Rat Race, because there is—loads of it! I just wouldn’t characterize going through the motions of this endless routine as showing grit. If that were true, then every working soul would have this personality trait, but that’s not the case.
Grit involves something much more intangible; a passion that drives the individual to sustain efforts over the long term in pursuit of an endgame—not just to endure it indefinitely.
Working just to pay off bills shows a lack of grit.
Perseverance, resilience, and self-control? You bet.
Grit? Not so much.
Dirty, Muddy, And Buggy
Drinking a tall glass of this beverage definitely requires some grit. Those who love their careers and can’t picture themselves doing anything else in life are usually the ones downing this concoction and asking for refills!
“Now why on earth would anyone want to drink dirt, mud, and bugs if they weren’t dying of thirst?”
To find the answer, just ask the same question in different contexts:
- Why would anybody want to work their entire lives as garbage men, plumbers, or bus drivers?
- Why do small business owners, entrepreneurs, and CEOs regularly clock in 40+ hour work weeks?
- Why do people enlist in the military, train to be police officers, or volunteer as firefighters knowing full well the risks for harm and even death?
Because for every job you turn your nose up to, every weekend you can’t imagine yourself working through, and every risk you’re too cautious to shoulder, there are those who have the grit to pursue these endeavours and not let anything stand in the way of their long-term goals.
Now if you settled into a profession, retired, and hated every minute of it, you can still have grit. But you must have strived towards a substantial goal. You must have been so passionate to achieve it that you were willing to endure spending most of your life working in a job that made you miserable.
So yes, you can still have grit if you saunter to work, but most people with grit (notably the Oracle of Omaha) tap dance to work instead!
This last group is special.
They can be described as eccentric, genius, and a repeat failure all in the same breath. Not only are they willing to “drink their own urine”, but they’ll eagerly accept a cup from you, your friends, and whoever is willing to donate—with a burp and a quirky smile!
These people routinely do things that make the rest of us huddle closer together like sheep and banish them from our comfort zones. We reassure ourselves in hushed tones that what they’re trying to accomplish is insane, utterly unachievable, or just downright stupid.
But their grit knows no boundaries. It’s as if they seem to feed off our criticisms and dissaproval. When they experience failures so tragic it would force the rest of us to pack up our bags and call it quits, they manage to dust themselves off and continue to trudge on towards their goals, one step at a time.
Ray Kroc was 52 and still selling milk shake machines door to door out of the trunk of his car before building McDonald’s into the empire it is today!
Whether its surviving in the Sahara Desert, filling a need in society, or changing and even making up their own rules as they go along, these movers and shakers will stop at nothing to fulfill their passions.
YouTube personality Casey Neistat used to get detention or suspended for skateboarding in his school hallways. He was told by his principal that if he thought he could grow up and skateboard through the halls of his office he had another thing coming. Neistat would eventually build a half-pipe in his office so that he could skateboard while he worked. Oh, and CNN recently acquired his Beme app for a cool $25 million. Not bad for a real life Bart Simpson! A reddit originals documentary about Neistat delves deeper into his inspiring story.
Billionaire inventor Elon Musk made millions from his early software companies Zip2 and PayPal, but he didn’t just stop there. In a critical stage of starting Tesla (an automaker that produced the first electric sportscar), Musk found himself between a rock and a hard place. Tesla was running out of money fast and nobody was willing to invest in the fledgling, unproven automobile startup. So what did Musk do? He doubled-down by investing the remainder of his own capital into Tesla and kept his dream from dying. According to CNN Money, Tesla today is currently worth about $25 billion. A Bloomberg documentary on YouTube breaks down how Musk “…Became The Real ‘Iron Man'”.
These are just a couple examples of individuals with extreme grit. I’m sure you can think of a few others.
Who inspires you to never give up on your dreams?
Are you gritty enough to ever fulfill them?