Tony DeMeo

The True Grit Rule

Coaches, the following is a short excerpt from my new book: Commonsense Rules for Everyday Leaders that is now available. It will feature close to 100 of these types of rules that every leader can find helpful. Signed copies are available on my website. People are always looking for “The Secret of Success” – the “Magic Bullet” that will bring them to the top, and will allow them to grab the brass ring. The following excerpt from the book Commonsense Rules for Everyday Leaders may provide the answer they are searching for.

The True Grit Rule

“You don’t have to be John Wayne to have true grit”

Front CoverOne of the most popular of the John Wayne westerns was “True Grit” the story of a young girl, Matte, looking for her father’s killer. She hired old Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) and the two set out on the quest. Rooster and Matte endure many trials and tribulations and eventually justice is served. But the True Grit Rule is not just about tracking down a killer, it goes much deeper into the very heart of success.

After years of extensive study, researchers have found that possibly the greatest single indicator of success is not IQ, SAT scores, or likability but grit. Grit is the passion and perseverance to overcome any obstacle in pursuit of a long term goal. The greater the, grit the greater likelihood for success. Martin Seligman author of the wonderful book Learned Optimism which I would strongly recommend along with Angela Duckworth have come up with great conclusions on the power of “grit”. Seligman placed grit right up with intelligence as the predictor of success.

Duckworth has come up with an 8 – 12 item test to measure the grittiness of an individual called “The Grit Scale” The United States Military Academy at West Point says it’s their most reliable indicator of success. Duckworth, a professor at The University of Pennsylvania is pushing the “Grit Scale” to be part of the admission process.

The power of grit is no surprise to someone who has made his living coaching college football players. I’ve seen countless young men overcome low SAT scores and graduate with high Grade Point Averages because of their ability to study relentlessly. I’ve witnessed the same dynamic happen on the football field when a player with limited ability rises through the depth chart to become an outstanding player.

Everyone knows a “Rocky Story” – a “nobody” who rises from nothing to success; even the Rocky story is a “Rocky Story” Sylvester Stallone was a “nobody” shopping his movie script of a down and out pug named Rocky Balboa. Despite numerous rejections, Stallone persisted and now the Rocky is an American icon.
Another great example of true grit is Jerry Rice, the Hall of Fame wide receiver from the San Francisco 49er dynasty years. Everyone remembers Rice’s heroics catching passes from Joe Montana and Steve Young, but few realize that Rice did not receive one Division I football scholarship coming out of high school. How do you go from a Division II athlete to arguably the greatest receiver of all time? Grit. Rice’s workout regimen was legendary. Though, not very fast, Rice became a master of running routes and catching the football. No one could outwork Jerry Rice.

So if the secret to success is no secret, why aren’t there more following the formula? Because it is hard work. Many, today, would rather make an excuse. “I can’t play in the NFL, I’m too slow” – lack of speed didn’t stop Jerry Rice. It’s easier to quit than develop grit. But if you really have a passion for a dream then here are a couple of tips to build some grit:

1. Once you decide what you want to do, manage the daily discipline to do it. It’s the daily training that propelled Jerry rice to greatness. It was not just one or two hard days of training, it was an everyday training schedule.

2. You have to love the process as well as the product. Jerry Rice loved playing football and his goal was to be a great wide receiver, but he could have never stuck to that demanding training routine if he did not also love the training.

3. It’s important to find someone who believes in you, but it’s critical that you believe in you. After a tumultuous poverty stricken life J.K. Rowling’s first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected 12 times. Enough rejections to make many quit. But J.K. Rowling had grit and believed in herself despite the setbacks. Her thirteenth try was the lucky one and now she is wealthier than some countries.

4. Take each day one at a time. Do whatever it takes every day to move closer to your goal. Take the advice from another Wizard, John Wooden and “Make each day your masterpiece” It took John Wooden sixteen years before he won his first National Championship. Certainly a member of the all grit team.

This book is filled with stories of leaders overcoming obstacles and rejection and persisting toward their dream. J. K. Rowling, Jerry Rice., Rocky and Coach Wooden are all great inspirations to remember, but you have to write your own script and become your own success story done your way. So pick that dream and have too much grit to quit.

Take Care,
Tony DeMeo