Alyssa Valleau|Apr 27, 2017

We’ve all been in a scenario like this: You watch your peers grasp a topic quickly as you work twice as hard to master the same subject with ease. You wonder, “What does it take to truly excel?”

The answer is grit.

In short, grit is a trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective.

Psychologist and author Angela Duckworth explores this phenomenon in her best-selling book, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.” Having researched this theory, I pondered how applying the principles of grit can result in becoming a better marketer.

According to Angela, there is an exact formula for achievement: Talent x Effort = Skill and Skill x Effort = Achievement. Although talent matters, effort counts twice as much, which is why the world’s brightest thinkers may not have always had the highest IQs but refused to give up.

However, it isn’t quite as simple as just trying harder. Angela breaks down grit into four key components. By being mindful of these and applying them, it can help us all improve as communications professionals.

1. Interest

A gritty individual knows where their passion lies. If you’re doing something you enjoy, then it’s much easier to dedicate the time required to reach that next level. Choosing to work in communications shows that we have an interest in our industry; but that isn’t enough.

Truly investing yourself in your sector, whether it be hospitality, travel or pharmaceuticals, will lead to your development. Knowing the ins and outs of a particular area will help you spot trends to come up with an innovative pitch or marketing strategy. Reading relevant industry news, researching new beat reporters and conducting further independent research will give you the knowledge to stay one step ahead of the curve.

2. Practice

Always aim to improve in the area that interests you and continue to challenge yourself on a daily basis. When it comes to pursuing your passion, you should never be complicit.

No one can claim that they are the communications professional. Everyone in the industry has their weaknesses. Maybe your writing is strong, but public speaking has always been your Achilles heel.

By embracing those weaknesses, a gritty individual will work hard to improve and seize opportunities to practice and get better. If you only do what you are good at, you will always stay at the same level.

3. Purpose

Purpose is the quality of going “above and beyond” and considering not only just yourself, but also those around you. A gritty individual realizes the importance of occasional self-sacrifice to achieve the overarching objective.

This is particularly relevant while working in the public relations industry. No job can be completed by just one person; it requires detailed communication and coordination with different teams, the client and the media. In a world where anything can happen at any moment, client needs can drastically change as a result.

Having a sense of purpose will allow you to realize the significance of things like an urgent deadline change or the sudden need for a larger PR campaign, which will give you the drive to excel as your team and your client are relying on you.

4. Hope

Never give up! Gritty individuals keep going even when the going gets tough. You shouldn’t let failure incapacitate you.

Pitching the media is a prime example of this. Nobody can claim that they have a 100 percent success rate with pitching. We all know how frustrating it can be. Perseverance is key.

You don’t know exactly why it’s not working. It might just not make editorial sense to include it at that moment. There could truly be a number of factors. This won’t, however, be the case with everyone. As they say, if you don’t buy a ticket, you won’t win the raffle. Just because your last two pitches haven’t been picked up, doesn’t mean your third one won’t be.

By consistently getting your product out of the door, you give yourself the best chance to turn things around.

Charles Darwin once said, “I have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work; and I still think [this] is an eminently important difference.”

This gritty mindset is one we foster at rbb. Are you up to the challenge?


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