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Six Overlooked Entrepreneurial Traps That Will Kill Your Business, #6: Lack of Grit

Updated: May 28

Bobby grows up on a farm. It is not a moneymaker. They have a cow, hog, and vegetables, and the family consumes most of what is produced. He lives close to the poverty line and dreams of a better day.

Completing high school is a struggle, but his vision of living a more prosperous life drives him to graduation. After graduation, Bobby gets off the family farm when he gets a job with a growing wholesale produce company doing manual labor.

He shows up early and stays late, determined to finish every task given to him with excellence. Bobby has truck driving experience from the farm, and when the company needs a truck driver, he is prepared for promotion. The company and customers love him.

One day one of the territory salespeople is out on vacation, and Bobby is asked to replace his boots and jeans with a coat and tie and work with customers in the front. As usual, driven by his desire for success, he is a hit. When the salesman retires, the company gives Bobby the job.

Bobby is #1 in sales in three years for twelve out of twelve months. His margins are strong, collections punctual, and his order fill rate is among the highest. He remains the #1 salesman for the next three years.

At the annual sales meeting, the company chairman asks, "Bobby, how do you stay #1?" Bobby responds with one word: "Desire." Expecting a different answer, the chairman asks him to explain.

"Well," Bobby begins. "Let me explain with a story. There was an oldtimer unloading his boat at the boat ramp at Lake Miccosukee, and the young buck at the dock asks him what desire is."

"The oldtimer grabs the young buck by the collar and dunks him under the water. With the young buck thrashing and gasping for air, the oldtimer finally lets him up for one big breath of air before dunking him under again. After the third dunk, the young buck grabs the side of the truck while the oldtimer explains."

"Desire is how badly you wanted a breath to survive. Desire is what it takes to succeed."

The chairman fully understands what Bobby means by desire.

Researcher Angela Duckworth calls Bobby's desire "grit." She defines grit as the quality that allows an individual to work hard and maintain focus—not just for weeks or months, but for years. As a seventh-grade math teacher, she noticed that her best students were not necessarily her smartest ones. Her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance is a #1 New York Times best seller. Her TED Talk went viral and is one of the most-viewed of all time.

Bobby had grit. Growing up poorly and dreaming of a better day, he developed the ability to work hard and maintain focus over the long haul.

Like Bobby, entrepreneurs who continually make a profit, bless their community, and advance their purpose have grit. They never stop building on their successes and continuously growing and improving.

How do you get grit? Grit comes from three things.

  1. Having a purpose beyond yourself

  2. Having the passion for pursuing it

  3. Maintaining the perseverance to achieve it

Starting with a purpose beyond yourself releases passion. Entrepreneurs who find significance over the long haul and finish well pursue profit for a purpose. When you realize a purpose for your profits, it becomes easier to maintain the perseverance to achieve it.

Do you have grit? Do you live for a purpose beyond yourself? Are you filled with a passion for pursuing it? Will you maintain the perseverance to achieve your purpose?

I believe you will. You are part of an exploding pipeline of talented entrepreneurs who pursue profit for a purpose.

Harry T. Jones

Drop me a line and let me know if this helps, Harry T. Jones

*Like all my stories, Bobby's story is real; names and some particulars are changed to protect the individuals involved.

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