After recently reading ‘Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance’ by Angela Duckworth, I have been thinking about how this applies to myself and how gritty I am not only in my work life, but my personal life too. Angela refers to grit as “passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals”, essentially it is the refusal to give up or quit.

Being a female in a highly male dominated sport (that is slowly changing) isn’t easy. I compete in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and each belt level sees more and more women drop out. As the only female in a class of 20-30 males, I had a choice to make, either shy away because they may be bigger or stronger than me, or put the time and effort in to show them I can be just as good, if not better than they are. Of course, I took the second option.

If you didn’t know, BJJ is founded on the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger and heavier opponent by using technique and leverage.

As in most martial arts, BJJ has a library of quotes from the best in the game, one of my favourites being “Time on the mat will eventually surpass talent and ability.” – Gracie Mag. This aligns with Angela’s theory of “Effort counts twice” shown by the formula; Talent x Effort = Skill, then Skill x Effort = Achievement. I know I am not as big or strong as the majority of people I train with, however I do know that I put a lot of time and effort onto the mats (at least 6 days a week) compared to them and it shows in what I achieve.

I look at the world champion black belts of the sport and see their endless achievements. It perfectly reflects the idea of being patient and ‘practice makes perfect’. Their success comes from discipline and consistency. Things have never happened overnight for them. The results have appeared as a consequence of decades of long toil and deliberate practice. Receiving your black belt alone shows how much grit someone has in this sport, as it can take upwards of 10 years to achieve this due to the minimum time that must be spent at each belt (only 7 years to go!).

Don’t get me wrong I still come across some situations where I am ‘out-strengthed’ by a stronger guy, but I take that away and work on it to be better the next time round. As Master Carlos Gracie Sr said “There is no losing in jiu-jitsu. You either win or you learn”. You have to embrace both your challenges and your failures to come out better on the other side. Even doing something you love; you will always hit rough patches that require hard work and that is where grit comes into it. With determination and willpower, you can persevere through the tough times to reach your goals.