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by Sara Pacelle

My family and I were glued to the television watching the recent 2014 Winter Olympics.  We couldn’t get enough of it.  When the camera spanned to the athletes’ faces just before their events, the sense of immediacy, stress and determination was palpable and exciting.  That was the very moment they had been preparing for their entire lives.  We were continuously amazed at the endurance and resilience of those talented athletes, particularly those who unfortunately would trip or fall during their event.  How did those athletes muster the courage to pick themselves up and finish their event with such grace and confidence?  Incredible.  Elite athletes are trained to know that the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are temporary conditions.  Both victory and defeat can develop  their endurance and strengthen their focus on their end goals.

In many ways, today’s job seeker and the Olympic athlete have much in common.  Both spend long hours in preparation, developing their skills and personal brand and refining their delivery.  Their experiences, both positive and negative, are cumulative and give them depth and definition.  Grit, endurance and resiliency are well-known personal traits for the successful athlete and these same words are becoming absorbed into the mindset of today’s job seeker.  After all, today’s job search is more like a marathon, than a sprint, requiring hard work, focus and mainly, grit.

Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth in her thought provoking TED talk The Key to Success? Grit discusses this concept within the context of her research.  Her findings suggest that one’s grit is the most significant predictor of success, even more so than one’s IQ.  Grit, she says, is what differentiates the winner from the pack.

So, what is grit? According to Duckworth, grit is passion and perseverance toward long term goals.  It is having the stamina day in and day out to endure setbacks and stresses and loneliness, to continue your work to make your dreams a reality. You might call it staying power or endurance or keeping your eye on the prize.  Whatever you call it, grit is critical in today’s marathon job search.  It allows you to keep your stress at bay and your confidence and motivation strong.

So, how do you get grit for today’s stressful job search?  Is it a trait you must be born with or can you develop it?  And how can today’s job seeker in their marathon search acquire it to keep in the game and reach their goal?