“Itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout
Down came the rain
And washed the spider out
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.”

Grit is courage and resolve, or strength of character. Persistence means to persevere, or stick with things even when the process gets tough. Other ways of describing this quality are: Pluck, mettle, steel, nerve, backbone, spirit, hardiness, toughness, and strength of will.

This quality has been shown to be a key ingredient in any life well lived. Like all human capacities it is not just something we are born with but can be cultivated and developed within us. People who exemplify this quality include Thomas Edison, J.K. Rowling, Albert Einstein and Vincent Van Gogh. It can be helpful to read the stories of these characters or others and use them as ‘moral exemplars’ for cultivating this character trait within yourself.

Reflective practice

How would you assess your capacity for grit?

Can you think of examples from your life of times when you persevered towards a goal in the face of obstacles?

What did it feel like to be dogged and determined, to have that experience of not giving up, of overcoming something?

Can you access that feeling in your body and in your mind now?

How would you describe it? What are its qualities?

While you have this feeling alive within you see if you can ‘anchor’ it by associating the feeling with a word (‘strength’ for example), a gesture, movement etc. Then see if you can activate the feeling at a future point when you need it by using your anchor.

What opportunities are there in your life right now to practice persistence or to get gritty?

Pick a challenge you are facing and see if you can develop a grit mindset around it. Set a goal, then, practice perseverance in achieving that goal.