There’s been a lot of buzz around “grit” and “resilience” lately. They are “integral to professional success,” claim psychologists. They are “vital to a functioning organization,” say the human resource professionals. And lawyers? They don’t stand a chance in a profession infamous for high levels of burnout, anxiety, and professional dissatisfaction without a good dose of grit and resilience.
What is Grit?
Dr. Angela Duckworth, a pioneering psychologist and MacArthur grant recipient, defines grit as the “passion and perseverance in pursuit of long-term goals.” Grit means that people don’t give up when challenged with overwhelming workloads or complicated projects. It means being tenacious, but not necessarily inflexible. Duckworth posits that grit is a better indicator of success than talent. While talent is often necessary for accomplishment, effort, she says counts double.
What is Resilience?
Some people fail and can’t get back up. Resilient people fail like everyone else, but they are able to learn and thrive as a result. In fact it is failure, or an intense challenge, that activates resilience as a skill set.
The resilient among us display these 6 traits:
- Mission and Purpose
- Safety and Security
Whether you call it grit or resilience (or perhaps, “resiligrit”), it is unsurprising that successful people reach favorable outcomes by continuously overcoming obstacles in the face of frustrating odds. This quality is necessary in nearly every industry and across the professional spectrum. Experts suggest that it is particularly relevant in the legal industry.
Law Favors the Steadfast
Very few wins in the legal profession provide instant gratification. Cases can take years of blood, sweat, and tears before clients and counsel experience resolution. Deals are fragile, and can take months of planning, delicate negotiation, and personal sacrifice before they are closed. Most legal work is geared towards a long-term goal.
The nature of legal work has prompted the ABA to initiate the Grit Project, aimed towards educating women lawyers about the value of grit. Law professors are researching grit to teach organizations about why successful lawyers need to be gritty. Employers too are quickly recognizing the power of grit and its value in a candidate’s retention potential. It’s a trait that even law firms are beginning to look for with increasing regularity.
Millennial Lawyers and the Shortage of Grit
What does this mean for the “instant gratification generation” of Millennials, a group known for a short attention spans, fragile egos, and on demand lifestyles? It means their experiences have left many of them wholly unprepared for the challenges of practicing law. And it’s not only Millennials that have a shortage of grit. Some baby boomers are poorly equipped to handle the stresses of the legal profession.
Think you have the grit it takes to succeed in the legal world? How do you stack up against other attorneys? Take our quiz to find out if you’ve got GRIT!