Motivation vs. Grit. What do Organizations Need to Perform at their Best?

It is very common for people and teams starting a new project to establish several goals and objectives with lots of motivation for achieving them, but then fall short. Recent performance research indicates that people, teams and organizations can start down a path towards achieving some remarkable goals, with lots of enthusiasm, and then sure enough, when they are in the process of achieving these goals, that initial motivation starts to diminish as challenges and setbacks affect motivation levels.

What the researchers actually discovered had nothing to do with the intelligence of the people trying to achieve these goals and objectives, but it showed that the people, teams and therefore the organizations lacked grit (one of my favorite performance words).

I often get asked what is grit?  Webster’s Dictionary defines grit as firmness of mind or spirit; unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger. Based on my professional experience I view grit as the ability to pick oneself up (or a team, or an organization) when faced with challenges and setbacks along the way to achieving objectives and goals.

As an athlete I have learned all about grit in racing internationally or merely when having to get up on those cold winter mornings at 5 a.m. to go for a run. In sports, and in business, the term grit can be defined as “where the rubber meets the road”. It means to do those things lots of people would rather not do, but which are necessary in order to achieve a certain level of performance.

In our new and ever changing world economy, grit is now an essential skill that must be used by organizations that want to remain competitive and bring creative ideas into actuality.

When I worked in the area of sales, I remember top sales executives who would repeatedly achieve their sales targets, and very often exceed them. They all had the same training as the other team members. They were very professional, knew their products and understood the needs of their clients. But what I experienced from these top sales executives was their unshakeable grit to make the extra follow-up calls and to bounce back from setbacks and challenges of cold calling and new business development. They kept moving forward and learning until they achieved what they set out to do.

As a high-performance development specialist I often hear that these individuals were born that way, and that their talent and abilities come naturally to them. There is some truth to that (few people indeed have been blessed with the “grit gene”), but the fact is that any professional in any organization can learn the skills of grit. And as these professionals start to apply the grit skills, they will soon discover the enjoyment of sticking with the performance process.

Having grit when faced with setbacks and challenges can often be much more rewarding than actually achieving the final objectives and goals.


If you would like to learn more about how I can assist your organization to establish grit in their performance, please contact me at 416-429-1247 or email at

All the best in achieving your highest performance.