Wholehearted Leadership Opinion: This key to success will help you excel

No matter what you're trying to accomplish, grit will help you achieve your goals

Credit: Paul Duchart

Pattison understands the value of perseverance

As Jimmy Pattison knows, grit gets results, no matter what you’re trying to accomplish

What’s the key to success?

Talk to 100 people, and you may get 100 answers. How would you answer that question?  It may depend on your definition of success.

How would you define success?

This week I heard two different perspectives on the key to success. I was in a meeting with a handful of leaders in Vancouver. The one who called the meeting and was leading our interactions told a story…

He was speaking at an event with David Foster. The legendary music producer walked into the audience, which included many young people—university age or early on in their careers. Foster asked the same question I just asked you:

“What’s the key to success?”

No one in the room gave Foster the answer he was looking for. His answer was simply, “Networking.”

OK, I certainly see networking as being important on a number of fronts. But I also see networking as being not so important on other fronts. And I believe there is something far more important than networking that will actually enable you to network well.

In fact, I believe there is something that will enable you to do many, many things well—including networking, of course.

So, let’s jump to another meeting I was in this week, again in Vancouver. This meeting was a small group of about a dozen leaders who lead leaders. They each work with numerous CEOs, entrepreneurs and executives who impact the lives of thousands of employees.

One of these people was a former leader in the Jimmy Pattison group of companies. He was presenting on an issue of relevance to the leaders in the room. In the midst of his presentation, he brought up an expression he often heard Pattison declaring as the bottom line to accomplishing anything of value.

No matter what you are pursuing, no matter what you are trying to accomplish, no matter what your goal is, this is the key to success. Without this you will not accomplish anything of consequence—according to Jimmy Pattison.

So, what is Pattison’s key to success?

“You gotta wanna!”

At the end of the day, you have to want it. You have to have a deep desire to keep moving forward in the face of opposition. You have to have a fire in your belly that keeps you focused on the task at hand and on the goal ahead, so you don’t give up.

You gotta wanna!

I agree with Jimmy Pattison. If we don’t have a passion to persevere we will not succeed.

Angela Duckworth, author of the New York Times best-selling book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, would agree as well.

Duckworth set out to study the key to why some people succeed and others don’t. She wondered if it really is talent and genius that separates success from failure. The short answer? No.

At the end of the day, after all her research, Duckworth determined that there is one key to success: grit.

What is grit? Simply stated, it’s passionate perseverance toward a goal. Grit is the tenacity to keep going in the face of opposition. Grit is a passionate persistence—an unwillingness to give up. The key characteristics of grit include courage, resilience, conscientiousness, follow-through and excellence, among many others.

The power of passion and perseverance is being hailed by many as the key to success.  Grit is it. Passion is one of the core foundations of success. In the vernacular of Jimmy Pattison, that’s referred to as “You gotta wanna.”

How about you? How badly do you want what you are pursuing? Have you defined success for you? I trust it includes family, friends, faith, your contribution to the community and purpose in life, and isn’t just about money. But however you may define success, you gotta wanna!

How much grit do you demonstrate? When the going gets tough, do you keep going? Do you demonstrate a passionate persistence to press through the tough stuff—to work through the difficulties?

Those who don’t “wanna” end up giving up. And remember, failure isn’t falling down; it’s refusing to get back up again.

True success? You gotta wanna! Let’s get gritty and get going.

David MacLean empowers CEOs, entrepreneurs and executives to dare greatly in his role as B.C. best practice chair for The Executive Committee Canada (TEC). David also writes and speaks on Wholehearted Leadership: inspiring, encouraging and equipping leaders to harness their most valuable asset—their HEART. You can reach him at dmaclean@tec-canada.com.