The Superhero Power You Need to Know About: Grit

grit leads to freelance success

Did you know that grit is more important than being talented and smart?

Freelancers who succeed aren’t luckier or smarter than freelancers who struggle. But we have grit: the determination to succeed and to push through the obstacles that all freelancers face.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Do you ever wonder why it’s so hard to make a good living as a freelancer? You’re talented. And you’re smart. Here’s the big secret to freelance success: Grit.

You don’t need to be a genius like Ironman. And you don’t need to have the endurance of Captain America or the speed of Wonder Woman.

The Superhero Power Freelancers Need: Grit

But you do need one power that all superheroes have: Grit.

Also called determination or mental toughness, grit is the “perseverance and passion to achieve long–term goals,” says James Clear in his report on “The Science of Developing Mental Toughness in Your Health, Work, and Life.”

Freelancers who succeed aren’t luckier or smarter than freelancers who struggle. We’re simply determined to succeed and to push through the obstacles that all freelancers face.

We have grit.

Grit Matters More than Brains

Less than 30% of what you achieve is based on how smart you are, says Clear based on research he’s reviewed.

Surprisingly, grit is more important than anything else in achieving business goals. “That’s good news because you can’t do much about the genes you were born with, but you can do a lot to develop mental toughness,” says Clear.

Grit is a key part of the mindset for freelance success.

Live Life Like a Marathon

definition of grit

“Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” says Angela Duckworth, author of the New York Times Bestseller Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance and much of the research in Clear’s report.

What got me through losing my biggest client in 2016 was grit. After a brief pity party (yes, I did fell sorry for myself at first), I started an active marketing campaign. Within a few months, I had 4 new clients and as much work as I wanted. Surviving a Freelance Disaster: Here’s What Happened to Me tells you more about this.

Never Give Up

Remember how Charlie Brown kept trying to kick that football, even though Lucy pulled it away from him every time? Charlie Brown never gave up. He had grit.

“. . . grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow,” says Duckworth.

how grit helps freelancers

If you want to know how much grit you have, take Duckworth’s Grit Scale.

When I did this, I scored 4.09. Duckworth says this is higher than about 70% of American adults.

3 Ways to Grow Your Grit

You can grow your grit, say both Duckworth and Clear. Here are 3 ways to do it.

3 ways to grow grit

1. Achieve Small Wins

“Mental toughness is like a muscle. It needs to be worked to grow and develop,” says Clear. “If you haven’t pushed yourself in thousands of small ways, of course you’ll wilt when things get really difficult,” he says.

If you set big goals, then it’s really hard to achieve them. For example:

Big Unreasonable Goal

Get one new client this week

Failure is almost guaranteed with this goal, because you don’t have any control over when clients hire you. And clients rarely need freelance help when we first contact them.

Small Achievable Goal

Send direct emails to 10 prospects this week

This is a goal that you can easily achieve.

2. Develop Good Habits

Building good habits is key to growing your grit, says Clear. “Mentally tough people develop systems that help them focus on the important stuff regardless of how many obstacles life puts in front of them. It’s their habits that form the foundation of their mental beliefs and ultimately set them apart.”

And focusing on the important stuff is really important. Many freelancers waste time on things that don’t matter and then never get to activities that can help them achieve their goal of building a successful freelance business.

3. Be Positive

Clients want to work with freelancers who have a positive attitude and colleagues want to refer work to us because they trust us.

And having a positive attitude means that we don’t have to work as hard to get great clients—because clients and colleagues like us.

No one likes to be around—or work with—negative people. A negative attitude zaps your energy. It makes you less resilient—and more negative.

Like grit, a positive attitude is something you can develop. Here are a few ways to become more positive:

  • Think positive thoughts
  • Use positive words
  • Seek out other people with positive attitudes
  • When bad things happen, learn from them and don’t blame yourself.

Learn More About Grit 

The Mighty Marketer:

FREE TOOL: The Ultimate Guide to the Freelance Success Mindset

Surviving a Freelance Disaster: Here’s What Happened to Me

4 Ways to Become a More Positive Thinker

Mighty Marketer posts on the Mindset for Freelance Success

James Clear:

The Science of Developing Mental Toughness in Your Health, Work, and Life

Angela Duckworth:

Grit Scale

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance