Muscle for life

How to Develop True Grit

How to Develop True Grit

The last 3 books I’ve read have been about 3 of the greatest leaders in history: Napoleon Bonaparte, Robert E. Lee, and Theodore Roosevelt. Each of them are great reads illustrating how men from a much different time than we’re in today rose to great heights, accomplishing incredible feats.

I’ve read other books about other great men as well. Be they great military leaders or warriors, business tycoons, or religious figureheads, and throughout each story there exists common characteristics. The characteristics that come to mind are a fearlessness aided by an incredible audacity and ambition. Of said shared qualities, however, grit is a constant characteristic, and one that’s disappearing in the modern man.

What is Grit?

Grit is perseverance and persistence. It’s an unwillingness to wilt, complain, or cry about one’s current state. It’s the ability to accept your reality and make the best of it, never wishing you were somewhere else, or in someone else’s shoes.

Life is as it is, all you can do is make the best of your situation.

Grit is toughness. It’s resilience. To be a man of true grit means you can’t be a quitter, you can’t be weak, and you can’t run from your fears.

If you’re going to accomplish anything of value in life, grit is a prerequisite. Without it, you surely won’t finish the long journey of greatness in any field.

Where Has Grit Gone?

Grit was once needed not only to thrive, but to survive. Before technology brought almost everything to our phone, home, and laptop, we had to travel to talk to someone, we had to kill our own food, harvest our own crops, and take care of our own land.









Our survival was dependent on, at least, some degree of grit. Today, you still need grit, but we’re not developing it like we once did.

Social Media: The Killer of Grit

Much of the sadness in our own lives can be attributed to our constant desire to compare ourselves, and our lives, to those of other people. We’re constantly comparing, and it ain’t healthy. No happiness can exist if it’s contingent on the lack of happiness of another when compared with our own.

The same is true when it comes to vanity and grit, the two can’t coexist. They oppose one another, and vanity has never been more prevalent in our society, especially with the addition of social media, where our lives are more about images than substance.

We can create entirely fictional identities on Facebook, for example. We can selectively choose what images we show, and which we don’t. We keep in touch with friends on Facebook, removing the need to bare our souls in one-on-one interaction. And the images we do post are chosen because of what others will think about us and the lives we lead.

You see more pics of beach views than you do of desks, which isn’t good either. Ease is king on social media. We want people to see the wonderful life we’re leading, foregoing the work needed to attain said ease – unless of course your Daddy can foot the bill.

Social media is compounding vanity, making it worse, and more widespread. A man can’t live a vain existence whilst also being a gritty, strong, tough man.

The Fix:

Post pics on social media, by all means, but forget about this “persona” you’re trying to create. Post pics of trips and stuff like that, but don’t constantly feel the need to check how many likes you’ve received. Your self-worth isn’t dependant on a number of likes. And what others think of the life you’re leading is of no consequence, especially if you’re actually living it, and not portraying it on social media.

Be on the Facebooks of the world, but don’t live on them.

Ease: Grit’s Greatest Enemy

A life of ease is what most of us want, but it isn’t what’s good for us as humans. For our own personal development, nor for society on the whole and our contribution to the rest of humanity. The strenuous life is good for us. It makes us tougher and better equipped to withstand the peaks and valleys that we’ll inevitably go through in life.

Ease doesn’t develop grit, hard work and persistence does. Ease makes you weak, hard work makes you tough. There isn’t a simpler way to put it.

So what do you do? Are you supposed to never rest? Hell no! Rest, by all means. Enjoy life, but enjoy your work as well, and when you set out to achieve something, don’t quit until you’ve done what you set out to do.

On a daily basis, fight the good fight. Work hard and persist, you’ll be better for it. Hardship is good. Place it upon yourself, don’t merely wait for it to pop its head into your life. The gym is one place you can do this.

Using the Gym to Develop Grit

The gym is more than a place to forge a stronger, better-looking and performing body. It’s a place to develop mental toughness as well. Use it as such.

“Training”, or working out, first started to train warriors. The Romans did it, as did the Greeks and Spartans. But it wasn’t merely used to build stronger, more skilled warriors, but prepare them for the horrors of war, to give them the ability to withstand the pain and fear they were going to face in battle.

Training hasn’t changed, even though people have.

It’s up to you what you use the gym for. You can use it to merely build bigger, leaner muscles, or you can use to help you forge a stronger will. Every time you resist that voice telling you to quit one rep earlier, or that you’ve “done enough” for the day when there’s still more to be done, you’re becoming tougher.

Every time you win the little battles that occur in the gym you’re not only building stronger muscles, but a stronger will. You’re developing grit.

Grit was once forged daily. We had to wake up early to tend to the farm, feed the animals and such, as a means for our survival. Today we can get by without doing the work that once needed to be done. Most of what we need can be earned or purchased from our arses.

But life hasn’t become any easier. And though ease is everywhere, character is still what makes great men great, and a lack of character still keeps weak men living small, insignificant lives filled with envy, a feeling of self-entitlement, and laziness.

Where you end up in life is up to you. Take that responsibility and run with it. Make your life the stuff of legend, become grittier, tougher, and self-reliant.

You, as well as the rest of humanity, will be better of for it, and the gym can be the beginning of this character that will help you through the highest of highs, and the deepest depths that life will inevitably throw your way if you take any kind of risk, and attempt any audacious feat.

I’d like to end this article with short video I put together on the subject at hand:

What’s your take on grit? Have anything else you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

chris walker Chad is a former 9-5er turned entrepreneur, a former scrawny amateur boxer turned muscular published fitness author. He’ll give you the kick in the ass needed to help you live the big, ambitious life you should be living, and you can find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Esteban Améstegui Lavayén

    Yeaah that makes me remember a part in The Dark Knight RIses when Bane tells Batman: “Victory has defeated you”. I think that’s what happened with our society, life became so easy that we lost our toughness and willing to fight.

    • Love it! That’s a wicked part of the movie. Great lesson to be learned there.

  • Lee Tyrrell

    Great article Mike, absolutely bang on! All I see on FB these days is people whining and feeling sorry for themselves.

    • Agreed. And trying to impress people that they don’t really want to impress. Useless!

      • Lee Tyrrell

        I didn’t realise till later that it was your article Chad and by then I’d already given Mike the credit 🙂

  • Christian Kichy Bitancurt

    Great article Chad, and great kick up the arse. Just what I needed today.

  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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  • kabir malhotra

    Character is THE MOST important and worthy goal in itself . But instead , the whole focus today is to lead ” the good life” and to lead this ” good life” , character takes the back seat and everyone searches for the shortest routes to make money because its that money which allows for that ” good life”. Chasing money dont always lead to character !
    Character first, happiness second, money third ! Thats the order . Well said Chad ! Thanks for hitting the nail on the head

  • Angelica

    I enjoyed the article, but you did not reference anywhere where “grit” came from, I’ve heard a TED talk where it is talked about, as well as read other articles.

  • Lee

    Instant gratification is the devil! It leads to stupidity, obesity and ruined relationships. One method of developing grit is by practicing delaying your illusory needs on a daily basis.
    Here’s what I do.
    Whenever I want to do something that requires grit, whenever I want to quit I have to throw in “3 White Flags” before I can.
    Want to leave early for work? FRFR. That’s one white flag.
    30 Minutes left and now I reaaallllly gotta go.
    Oops that only white flag two.
    By the time I want to use the third its already quitting time!
    When we want to quit that’s just a sign our bodies need a break, not that we actually NEED to quit.
    Go drink some water, walk instead of run, lift 30 pounds instead of 50, JUST DON’T QUIT, IT’S ALMOST NEVER WORTH IT!

  • Great article. I also wrote the same article on my blog. I talk about the lessons I learned from my uncle who is a former Navy SEAL. His experience gives me inspiration and learning. It is amazing how military trains their recruits to prepare in battles. We all have battles too. I believe that the same principle applies to all. So everyone should also learn how to deal with tough situations. Thanks for sharing this post.

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