When Grit Becomes a Problem (Also: Regular service resumes today)


Long-time readers know that it’s uncommon for me to not send my daily emails. I’ve been writing these daily articles for some 5 years now, and I’ve only skipped a few handfuls of times.

And yet, for over a week I published nothing. (Sorry about that: regular service resumes today).

And it’s not so much that I needed a break, but rather: I needed a review and redesign.

As a creative, and ex-monk, and a business owner, I love systems. Habits, routines… any chance I see to create a ritual or system, I jump at it.

That way, I reduce the amount of energy I need to spend thinking and deciding, and I get to spend my mental energy on doing things that make a difference – either in my business or in that of my clients.

So far so good. Long-time readers also know that one of my favourite axioms is ‘Every skill or talent can be an Achilles’ heel’.

And that’s why I took a break from writing.

Because one of my skills is being gritty: I know how to push on, persist, give it another go. I’m good at that.

Obviously a great ability to have… except, until you end up applying grit to something that’s suffered too much entropy – which is what had happened to my habits and systems, routines and rituals.

See, everything degrades, everything is subject to entropy, and habits and routines are no exception.

And when you find yourself trying to work harder and harder, but you’re not seeing improvement, maybe the solution isn’t in ‘more grit’ but in ‘Stop everything. Take stock. Redesign’.

And that’s what I did over the last week (yep, been super-useful! :)

I’ve decided on different habits, a new outline for my days, a different system for managing my client relationships… and it feels awesome. I’m back.

Some things need to be done more, harder, for longer hours.

Other things need to be done differently, because doing the ‘wrong’ thing won’t ever get you the right outcome, no matter how hard you try or how gritty you are.

Knowing when to push on or when to take your foot off the throttle is a valuable skill.

And any time you’ve been cracking away at something and you end up wondering ‘why isn’t it working?’, maybe it’s time to stop a while, take stock, and ask yourself if doing things differently might be a good idea.

Working hard is good, but don’t let it become a way to avoid looking at what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.

Cheers,

Martin


Also published on Medium.

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