Leading with GRIT: A book review by Bob Morris

Leading w: GRITLeading with GRIT: Inspiring Action and Accountability with Generosity, Respect, Integrity, and Truth
Laurie Sudbrink
John Wiley & Sons (2015)

“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s really quite simple. Double your rate of failure.”
Thomas Watson

Until reading this book, all I knew about “leading with grit” was learned from the results of research conducted by Angela Lee Duckworth and her associates at The Duckworth Lab, University of Pennsylvania. As she explains, “Our lab focuses on two traits that predict achievement: grit and self-control. Grit is the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals. Self-control is the voluntary regulation of behavioral, emotional, and attentional impulses in the presence of momentarily gratifying temptations or diversions. On average, individuals who are gritty are more self-controlled, but the correlation between these two traits is not perfect: Some individuals are paragons of grit but not self-control, and some exceptionally well-regulated individuals are not especially gritty.”

As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of Henry Ford’s observation long ago that “Whenever you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.” Laurie Sudbrink wrote this book to help as many people as she can to “navigate through the tough times and free themselves from the chokehold of negativity.” However, the wealth of information, insights, and counsel she provides will be of little (if any) value to you unless and until you believe – really believe — that you can achieve success, however you define it. Sudbrink introduces an acronym, GRIT®, that refers to four principles: Generosity, Respect, Integrity, and Truth. Applying these principles will help you create personal accountability, inspire yourself and others to make a best effort, enhance team performance, and develop authentic leadership. All four are especially important because they are interdependent.

Readers will appreciate Sudbrink’s skillful use of an end-of-chapter, step-by-step device she calls SHIFT:

1. First, scan each chapter before reading it;
2. Next, hone in on one or two areas of greatest need and value to you;
3. Then envision the potential impact of success;
4. And begin to formulate a specific plan to achieve it;
5. Finally, DO IT.

My own opinion is that the first steps should be to scan the table of contents and read the Introduction and/or Preface before proceeding to the first chapter. Reader’s choice.

Also long ago, Thomas Edison observed, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” Fortunately, Sudbrink accompanies you through each of the five stages of SHIFT. These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Sudbrink’s coverage:

o The Choice Is Yours (Pages 2-11)
o GRIT® Self-Awareness Test (11-13)
o There Are Many Paths to Find Your Truth, and, Look Objectively (26-30)
o Change Your Story (32-33)
o The Impact of Truth (37-39)
o Accountability Is an Act of Integrity (55-58)
o Why Do People Lie (61-64)
o Be Selfish, and, Consider Others (68-72)
o Accept It and Let It Go (81-84)
o Let It Flow (98-100)
o Finding Purpose (104-108)
o The Five Steps of Change™ (116-129)
o Barriers to Listening (135-138)
o Understand the Why (139-141)
o Communicate with Confidence, and Inspire with Your Message (157-159)
o Structure Your Message (164-166)
o Empower Team Communication (178-181)
o Just Ask (184-186)
o The Value of Connecting (196-200)
o Attitude Is Everything (206-208)
o Leaders Set the Direction, and Know the Where and the Why (218-223)
o Creating a Culture of Feedback and Recognition (225-230)

I agree with Laurie Sudbrink: “With GRIT®, we don’t need to be a hero. The reward of the life we now have is enough. We wake up in the morning eager to start our day, knowing we will enjoy it, and excited to make a difference in other people’s lives — .”

The challenge, obviously, is to master the skills required by the success we seek. We need what Carol Dweck characterizes as a “growth mindset,” one that allows us to believe that our most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This attitude develops a love of learning and a resilience that are essential to any major accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities. So can you.

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