by Brad Roderick | 10/28/15

As a kid, who didn’t love Halloween? You got to stay up late, run through the neighborhood, and annoy people by ringing their doorbells and screaming at them — and they rewarded you with candy! But the best part of it was that we got to be our favorite superhero.

So here we are again at Halloween time and I asked my grandson what he wanted to be for Halloween. He’s pretty into the Minions so I felt I knew what the answer would be. But he surprised me by telling me to wait there as he zoomed off. In about a minute and 10 seconds he was back wearing his full Captain America costume, shield and all. You see, cute minions are funny and all but deep down in our hearts, we want to be the superhero.

This amazingly cute and brilliant four year old reminded me that kids don’t even have to think about it, they just show up being who they want to really be – the person who has what it takes to save the world.  As we grow older, we don’t lose our desire to be the hero. We may shove it to the back of the “closet of life” but it’s still there, waiting for us to put it back on. We want to be the person who has what it takes to get the job done, regardless or in spite of the odds against us. The person who has what it takes.

The Saturday Evening Post ran a serial novel about a 14-year-old girl determined to see justice done to the man who murdered her father. You may not recall the serial novel by Charles Portis but you probably recall John Wayne winning an academy award for his role in the movie version of, “True Grit” — the person who has what it takes.

Grit or mental toughness, the great unequalizer. James Clear cites research indicating that intelligence only accounts for 30 percent of our achievements. Thirty percent! Tops. You probably know more than one absolutely brilliant person who never seems to advance. They have seemingly everything to lead the pack but they lack mental toughness. They lack the grit, the drive, the determination to walk through the valley and crawl up the hillside when their legs give out, then get up the next day and climb another peak.

University of Pennsylvania researcher Angela Duckworth studied the achievements of 2,441 cadets at West Point. Her research using a “Grit Scale” showed that only one standard deviation point – one single point – provided a 60 percent higher likelihood of successfully finishing the Beast Barracks training!

James Clear makes this statement: “In every area of life – from your education to your work to your health – it is your amount of grit, mental toughness, and perseverance that predicts your level of success more than any other factor we can find.”

According to Wikipedia, “Mental toughness is a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances (such as difficult training or difficult competitive situations in games) and emerge without losing confidence.” Dr. Jim Loehr defines mental toughness as, "the ability to consistently perform towards the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of competitive circumstances." (Jim Loehr, “The New Toughness Training for Sports.”)

Mental toughness isn’t just for athletes or cadets. “Our hypothesis that grit is essential to high achievement evolved during interviews with professionals in investment banking, painting, journalism, academia, medicine and law,” said Duckworth.

From business owner to sales rep to philanthropic board member to parent to … well, anyone and everyone who is or seeks to lead themselves and others, mental toughness is an absolute necessity. And the good news is that it can be learned. The bad news is that you will have to wait until next time when we look at how to develop grit and the importance of vision. Until next time, toughen up buttercup.

Brad Roderick is executive vice president of InkCycle Inc. He is an industry veteran with more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience. He is an active member of the imaging industry as an author, trainer and speaker. Contact him at broderick@inkcycle.com