The 4 Components Of A Successful Life

“Grit” – or the capacity to dig deep and do whatever it takes to achieve your most important, long-term goals – is an important attribute for anyone interested in leadership, education, performance, or personal success.

Basic grit is only about quantity.  The upgrade, which I like to call “GRIT,” is the term that encompasses four dimensions—Growth, Resilience, Instinct, and Tenacity—and incorporates quality as well as quantity.

But how do you evaluate and grow your GRIT?  The key is to focus on not just how much, but how. Relentlessly going after your goals in ways that may harm others, or beating your head to a pulp rather than re-assessing or changing your approach may score high on quantity, not so much on quality.

In other words, you need to grow both quality and quantity. The holistic improvement of GRIT creates the biggest upside.  And by understanding the four dimensions of GRIT – Growth, Resilience, Instinct, and Tenacity – you can begin the journey of enhancing this capacity in all areas to make for a successful life.

Trail Running Stock

The Four Dimensions of GRIT

1. Growth

Most of us think of growth as a mindset. But when it comes to GRIT, research reveals that growth is actually that, plus your propensity to rise above the immediate situation, to seek fresh ideas and insights as a way to improve your approach and chances of a successful life.

Related: 5 Elements Of Success You Need To Succeed

Ask yourself, What additional, new, fresh insight should I seek to enhance my long-term chances of success?”


Every year, I speak in front of thousands of people. When I ask, “If someone is resilient, they…,”  the response is always, “Bounce back!”

But in the world of GRIT, resilience is about much more than bouncing back. It is your capacity to be strengthened and improved by adversity. So, the ultimate quest is to become more “response-able.” Response ability is your ability to respond optimally to whatever happens the moment it strikes.

Here is some advice for building your Resilience:  every time you face any adversity, ask yourself, “How can I respond better and faster to this adversity? How can I harness this adversity, so that I will be able to look back and say, ‘Thank goodness this happened, we’d never be where we are now if it hadn’t!’”

Related: Overcome Adversity: 5 Tips To Getting Through Anything

3. Instinct

We all know people who consistently pursue the wrong goals or go after their dreams in less than effective ways.

Over time, that pattern can lead to a tragic life. That’s why instinct, your gut level propensity to pursue the right goals in the best possible ways, is so critical to true GRIT.

I always remind people that relentlessness is powerful, but refined relentlessness is unbeatable. That’s why knowing when to step back, re-assess, and change strategies, if necessary, is key to long-term effort, energy, and success.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself when you want to tap your instinct: “Is this still the right goal? Is this the best possible version of the goal? If not, how would I refine the goal to make it even more compelling and true? Is my current plan the best way to get there? If not, how can I refine and improve my approach to at least increase my chances of a successful life?”

Related: 3 Keys To Success: A Cheat Sheet For Achieving Your Dreams

4. Tenacity 

When we hear the word “grit,” most of us think of persistent, unrelenting effort. And it’s true, almost anyone who accomplishes something truly noteworthy goes through a period of perceived zealotry, meaning the people closest to them begin to question their judgment.   

However, tenacity is more than just persistent, unrelenting effort. It is that one additional, beyond-any-reasonable-expectation effort that creates the breakthroughs the rest of us get to admire and enjoy.

Ask yourself, “If we were to give this one more wholehearted effort, where and how should I go for it to most dramatically enhance progress and success?”


Use these simple tips serve as a basic, but meaningful start to a successful life – a pocket Swiss army knife you can whip out and employ. Ultimately, you’ll discover that the path to greater GRIT never ends.


PS - semi casual outdoor
Paul G. Stoltz, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of PEAK Learning, Inc. and the author of GRIT: The New Science of What it Takes to Persevere · Flourish · Succeed (ClimbStrong Press; January 2015).  He is the originator of Adversity Quotient® and GRIT™ theories and methods, used at Harvard Business School, MIT, and leading companies worldwide. Dr. Stoltz is considered the world’s leading expert on the integration and application of resilience and grit.

Photo by WilzFoto

Scroll to Top