What is Grit? Demanding Military Training Taught Me.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Primary Blog/What is Grit? Demanding Military Training Taught Me.

Grit is an essential quality that must be developed to achieve any long-term goals–and it’s critical when competing in sports. Talent isn’t enough. Hard work and deliberate practice are required for success. I learned how to develop and use grit to push my physical and mental limits to make it through the most difficult military training in the world.

When you develop grit, it gives you the discipline and perseverance to conquer obstacles. In this blog post, I will explain what “grit” is, discuss why it matters for young athletes (or anyone looking to succeed), and give you some actionable and proven steps to start developing it today.

If you are looking for a quick fix or some visualization drills, you won’t find that here. Read on if you want something that works and helps you develop grit.

What is grit?

Grit is defined as a combination of passion and tenacity, an ability to persist in the face of difficulty. What is grit? It is a quality that many successful people have developed over time by facing difficult situations, pushing through adversity, and learning to focus on long-term goals even when things get tough.

Grit, resilience, and mental toughness are very similar. The critical difference is that mental toughness is focused on the now, the present. Resilience deals with the past, and grit draws from the future. Resilience is how we move past failure. Grit keeps us pushing through by staying focused on long-term goals, and mental toughness keeps us focused on the present execution of the step-by-step plan to achieve those goals.

Why grit matters

Grit is going to keep you going. Grit is going to help you build self control. Grit is going to change your mindset and develop your skills. Grit is going to get you over obstacles. Remember grit is pushing through adversity and learning to focus on long-term goals even when things get tough.

Developing grit.

It starts with your why

Many people believe that you can build mental toughness, build grit, and build resilience by just doing hard things. And while they may be partially correct, they are settling for ok results when they could have mindblowing results. Just doing hard things for the sake of doing hard things will have some effect, but in my opinion, this method is a waste of time. If you do something hard, like run a 50-mile ultra marathon, and your sole purpose is to accomplish something hard, then 90% of the value will be gained the first time you do it. After the first time, if your sole motivation for doing it was to test yourself, your motivation will fade. Grit focuses on your future goal and enables your mental toughness. (grit – future, mental toughness – now) This method lacks the future goal and the why.

Starting with your why is much more powerful. What is your why? Your why is the reason you want to accomplish your goal. You have to want it. Doing it because someone else wants it for you doesn’t really work, at least not when things get tough. I made it through BUD/s because I knew my why. When I was tired, wet, cold, and the most miserable I have ever been before or since I reminded myself of why I wanted it. I didn’t want the suffering or to be tired, wet, and cold; I wanted what was on the other side of the suffering, and I knew why. If you want something bad enough, you will be willing to sacrifice and, at times, suffer. If you want something bad enough, you will break through obstacles, even if it takes years. If you want something bad enough, you will overcome failure and turn it into fuel.

Self-control and Grit

Self-control and grit are closely related because both involve delaying gratification and sticking to one’s long-term goals. Self-control is the ability to resist temptation and impulses in the short term, while grit is the capacity to persevere toward long-term goals despite obstacles and setbacks. In other words, self-control is the foundation for developing grit.

Individuals who possess self-control can resist the temptation to give up on their goals when faced with challenges or roadblocks. They can stay focused on their long-term objectives and maintain the discipline needed to achieve them. Similarly, individuals who possess grit are better able to exercise self-control, as they have the resilience necessary to stay committed to their goals, even in the face of adversity.

Self-control and grit enable individuals to overcome obstacles and achieve their desired outcomes. They help people to stay motivated, maintain discipline, and persevere through challenges. By cultivating both self-control and grit, individuals can increase their chances of success in all areas of life.

With a growth mindset, effort counts

A growth mindset is the belief that one’s abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. It is the opposite of a fixed mindset, which sees intelligence and skills as innate and unchangeable.

Effort plays a crucial role in developing a growth mindset.

Those with a growth mindset understand that effort is necessary for improvement and success. They see challenges as opportunities for growth and learning rather than obstacles to avoid. They also believe that skills and abilities can be developed over time through dedicated effort and practice.

You will need a growth mindset to put in the effort to build grit. If you don’t have grit now, you must believe you can get it(growth mindset) and put in the effort. Click here to learn more about the growth mindset.

Practice deliberately

Deliberate practice will speed up your journey. It doesn’t matter what it is you are trying to achieve. If it is worth going after, you will have to overcome obstacles. Obstacles can be many things, but let’s not worry about many things. Let’s worry about what we can control or at least significantly influence. This thing is our skills.

If you had the skills to be where you wanted to be, then you would be there already. We will all have to learn new skills to progress toward our goals. The first step is identifying what the skills are.

For sports, this is pretty straightforward. Take golf, for example. The critical skills are putting the ball in the fairway off the tee (and hitting it far enough), being accurate from 150 yds and in, having a great short game from 20 yards and in, and putting from 15ft. If you master these skills, you can compete at the highest level. Other skills are important, but these critical skills are what determine the most important part, your score.

Knowing what the critical skills are is the first step. The second step is training them. A training plan should reflect the skills that need to be developed. Start with the easiest skill and work through all of them, saving the hardest for last.

So start by identifying the skills you need. Develop a training plan to learn them and focus on one at a time, starting with the easiest. Remember, natural talent will only get you so far. If you want to keep moving forward toward your personal goals, you will have to put in consistent practice on a consistent basis. Tiger Woods became the best by putting in consistent work for decades. He was never satisfied with where he was, and he was constantly pushing to master new skills and practicing deliberately on a consistent basis.

Struggling with confidence on or off the field? Click here to learn to walk with confidence.

Stack small wins to maintain passion and perseverance

Starting with the easiest skill lets you get quick wins. Each time you build a skill, your confidence will grow. This will increase your belief in yourself. This belief in yourself will strengthen your self control and keep you focused. Before you know it, you will have grit.

We must have a vision for where we want to be and know why we want it. We also have to give that vision some fuel. Small wins are powerful fuel. Small wins cultivate hope.

Once you are stacking small wins, it’s only a matter of time before you develop grit. Keep at it, your going to need more grit.

You will have to overcome challenges to reach long-term success

This is where grit comes in. We define grit as the determination to push through tough times and stay focused on your goals. It’s the trait that got me through BUD/s, Business School, and injuries.

The military taught me how to be resilient and patient when dealing with difficult situations. It also showed me that taking action, no matter how small, is better than doing nothing. Every time I faced a challenge, no matter how daunting, I was determined to find a solution and push through it. Each time I pushed through, I experienced personal growth.

As I moved forward in my career and life, the same lessons that got me through the grueling military training have helped me succeed elsewhere. At my lowest, I had to dig deep and find that grit. Grit means believing in yourself even when it seems impossible and pushing through hard times to succeed. If you want to read my story click here.

Remember that grit is staying committed and focused on your goals when facing difficult circumstances. It may seem daunting, but with enough determination and perseverance, you will go far.

Click here to learn the 8 key ways successful athletes use mental toughness.

Surround yourself with gritty people

Show me your friends, and I will show you your future. If your friend group is dragging you down, you may need a different friend group. Learning to deal with negativity and criticism is essential, but you need people with grit in your corner.

You need people that have overcome obstacles and gotten back up after failure. You need to encourage them, and they need to encourage you. If you spend all your time with people who aren’t going where you want to go, you won’t be going there either. So if you want to be a gritty person, surround yourself with people with more grit than you. And if you can’t find those people, read stories or watch videos about people with grit—stories about people overcoming obstacles and failure to find success.

Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth is known for her grit scale, and her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, revolutionized the world’s understanding of success. Duckworth argues that talent is not enough to be successful; one must have grit, or “the combination of passion and perseverance for a singularly important goal.”

Her theory has been tested in military training – where demanding physical and mental challenges are used to develop a soldier’s inner strength and resilience. Through her research, Duckworth discovered that the most successful soldiers had an intense focus on their mission and a resilient attitude toward adversity and scored highest on Duckworth’s grit scale.

In times of uncertainty or difficulty, Duckworth suggests turning to one’s own grit—the combination of willpower, ambition, and fortitude—to help navigate the path ahead.

This concept has been echoed in military training, where soldiers are taught to develop their grit and inner strength through relentless drills and exercises.

Duckworth’s research reveals that these traits can be applied to all aspects of life, allowing anyone to become resilient and successful in any situation.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance offers a unique perspective on resilience and success, showing how the same principles taught in military training can be adapted for any challenge.

With this philosophy at the heart of her teachings, Duckworth provides invaluable insight into overcoming adversity and reaching our goals. Whether facing tough times or seeking success, Duckworth’s advice is invaluable for anyone looking to develop their inner strength and resilience.


Ultimately, developing and displaying grit is a habit that must be continually nurtured, practiced, and worked on to lead to lasting success.

Angela Duckworth once said, “At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.”

(Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/angela-duckworth-quotes)

So the next time you face a challenge, get up and remember: effort counts, practice deliberately, stack small wins, and surround yourself with gritty people to reach long-term success. If you want to get ahead, start building grit today! Take these lessons learned and consider ways of testing your threshold for resilience. Invest in yourself and know how far you will push through discomfort. Showing up and facing adversity builds character, but only staying power will finish the job. So don’t be discouraged when things get tough; grit will open the door to achieving great heights – personally and professionally – that may have once seemed impossible.

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Hi, I Am Chad Metcalf

My goal is to provide practical and actionable resources (that worked for me) to help you get from where you are to where you want to be. 

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