Do You Have Grit? 8 Ways to Get Back Up When You Fall Down

Sometimes, it’s hard to know who is the teacher and who is the learner. Here’s a recent story that taught me a lesson in determination, stamina, and positive self-talk.

One afternoon, my 4-year-old granddaughter and I were playing dominoes. We decided to create a domino effect, positioning the dominoes upright on their sides in a row, short distances apart.

Our objective was to set them up, then push the first domino in the line, triggering a chain reaction of clattering, falling dominoes. Repeatedly, we would begin setting them up, then one domino would accidentally fall, toppling the remainder – long before we’d completed assembling them. At first, we just laughed and began again. After about 10 attempts, I began feeling a bit frustrated. Amazingly, I observed my sparkling grandchild continue calmly to re-trace her actions. I exclaimed, “You are very patient. You just keep trying again.”

And she said to me, “We can rebuild. We’ve got grit!”

Over and over, we’d arrange the dominoes and somewhere in the process one would fall, knocking down the others, before we’d completed setting them all up. And each time, the 4-year-old child, a model for GRIT, persistence, and resilience, would exclaim, “We can rebuild. We’ve got grit!”

Finally, the dominoes were lined up and ready to set off the domino effect. The child pushed the first one and SUCCESS! We reached our goal – a chain reaction with each domino consecutively knocking over the next! What fun it was to watch the result of our energies, attention, and grit. We laughed, hugged, and began again.

What’s Grit? Grit is the courage, passion, and perseverance to follow through to achieve a goal we care about.

Who’s successful and how do they get there? Anyone of any age can strengthen their grit. Helping us successfully achieve long-term objectives, grit matters at work, in school, and in our personal lives. In fact, according to University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth, PhD, grit can contribute more to achieving success than talent or IQ. (2016). She writes: “As much as talent counts, effort counts twice.”

What ingredients strengthen grit?

  • Genuine interest in the goal and a sense of purpose that your work matters to you and to others.
  • Perseverance and practice. Grit is more than talent. Lots of hard work and intentional practice is key.
  • Believing that failure is NOT permanent. That with hard work you can learn, grow, and change, employing a growth mindset (Dweck, 2006; Duckworth, 2013). When you make mistakes, you can learn from them, and then try again with new understandings and/or strategy.
  • Hope and resilience: Youth and adults with grit are able to generate the hope that their aims are possible. Even when things are tough, and the next steps aren’t certain, they can get up and try again.

8 Ways to Get Back Up Even When You Fall Down

1. Remind yourself about your “Why.” Think about why you’re doing this. What’s so important about it? What are the benefits to you and to others in the bigger picture?

2. Teach yourself to self-talk more optimistically and positively when you’re striving toward your long-term goals (Duckworth, 2016). For example, self-talk, such as:

“What can I learn from this experience?”
“I can do this. What’s another option to try?”
“I’ll break it down into smaller steps and try again.”
“I am sticking with my goal and will eventually reach it.”

3. Give yourself a kind, mindful embrace with a compassionate pause. Take a mindful moment to inhale and exhale. Notice the experience of breathing. Do this for several breaths. Then, ask yourself what’s my next right step?

4. Consider other options to tackle the challenge and try one or more.

5. Take a deeper dive. Maybe going deeper in some way could help. Seek additional information, a new tool or skill. Think carefully about where you got stuck, and what could be done differently. Involve your team-mates or create a team to collaborate with.

6. Look for some humor in the challenge. Have fun.

7. Get back up. Ask for help or support when you need it – to remind you to keep going, when you fall (Snyder, 1994). One of my mindfulness teachers, Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg, often says, “Fall down, get up.” Short and simple, it’s a great reminder to me as I struggle in my own life.

8. Briefly walk away to get some distance, and then return to the task with renewed energy, stamina, and perspective.


This article was originally published on 

GoalsOnTrack Newsletter

Subscribe now to receive four wonderful ebooks for free to help you reach goals, build good habits, increase income and become more productive in life. They are beautifully designed, well written, practical and easy to read!

Plus, you'll have free access to all our member resources. Subscribe below to get your free access code in the confirmation email.

We respect your email privacy