The Role of Grit in Delivering Sustainable Projects

This might be one of the coolest blog posts I have ever penned (ok, typed).  We don’t talk enough about grit! Ya gotta have it to be successful, especially when working in sustainable projects. But what exactly is grit, and how can it help project managers deliver sustainable projects?

Let’s explore the concept of grit and why it’s a key competence for delivering successful, sustainable projects!

What is Grit?

Grit is a term that was first coined by psychologist Angela Duckworth. In her book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” Duckworth defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” Essentially, grit combines resilience, determination, and perseverance in the face of challenges.

While many people believe that success is largely based on talent or intelligence, Duckworth’s research shows that grit is actually a better predictor of success. In fact, she found that grit was a better predictor of academic success than standardized test scores.

Why is Grit Important for Delivering Sustainable Projects?

When it comes to project management, sustainability is key. Delivering sustainable projects means creating outcomes that will endure over time, and that will have a positive impact on society and the environment. But delivering sustainable projects is can be challenging.  Here is where I shamelessly promote our New P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management 3.0 It ranks a 10 out of 10 on the grit scale. Download it for free here.

Projects are fraught with risk and uncertainty. Unexpected obstacles and setbacks are common. And when it comes to sustainability, there are often conflicting priorities that need to be balanced. That’s where grit comes in.

Grit is what allows project managers to persevere in the face of challenges. It helps them stay focused on their long-term goals, even when the journey is difficult. Grit allows project managers to keep pushing forward, even when they encounter obstacles. And it helps them to maintain motivation and energy over a long period of time.

Here are just a few of the ways that grit can help project managers deliver sustainable projects:

Grit Helps Project Managers Overcome Obstacles

One of the biggest challenges in project management is dealing with obstacles. No matter how well-planned a project may be, unexpected challenges are bound to arise. These can range from unexpected delays or setbacks to more serious issues like funding problems or scope changes.

When project managers encounter these obstacles, they need to be able to overcome them quickly and efficiently. That’s where grit comes in. Grit helps project managers stay motivated and focused in the face of obstacles. It helps them to stay on track, even when things get tough.

Grit Helps Project Managers Stay Focused on Long-Term Goals

Sustainability is all about the long-term. It’s about creating outcomes that will endure over time, and that will have a positive impact on society and the environment. But with so many short-term distractions and competing priorities, it can be challenging to stay focused on these long-term goals.

Grit helps project managers stay focused on their long-term goals. It helps them to maintain their motivation and energy over a long period of time. And it helps them to keep pushing forward, even when the journey is difficult.

Grit Helps Project Managers Adapt to Changing Circumstances

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, agility is more important than ever. Project managers need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances quickly and efficiently. They need to be able to pivot their strategies or adjust their plans when necessary.

Grit helps project managers adapt to changing circumstances. It helps them stay motivated and focused, even when things don’t go according to plan. And it helps them to maintain their resilience and determination in the face of unexpected challenges.

Grit Helps Project Managers Build Resilient Teams

Sustainability is not just about delivering outcomes that will endure over time. It’s also about building resilient teams that can adapt to changing circumstances and overcome challenges.

Grit is contagious. When project managers model grit and determination, it inspires their team members to do the same. It helps build a culture of resilience and determination, which can be incredibly valuable in delivering sustainable projects.

Hiker with backpack raising hands jumping on the top of a mountain

How Can Project Managers Develop Grit?

While some people are naturally more gritty than others, grit is a trait that can be developed over time. Here are a few tips for developing grit as a project manager:

1. Set Clear Goals

Grit is about perseverance in the face of challenges. But to persevere, you need to have a clear idea of what you’re working towards. Set clear, long-term goals for your projects, and break them down into smaller, manageable chunks.

2. Focus on Progress, Not Perfection

Perfectionism can be a real barrier to grit. When we get too caught up in trying to make things perfect, we can lose sight of the bigger picture. Instead, focus on progress, and celebrate each small win along the way.

3. Embrace Failure

Failure is a natural part of the project management process. I will reiterate though that the notion that 65% of projects fail is complete nonsense.  See my post on it.  But… When you fail, embrace it, and see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. When things don’t go according to plan, use the experience to gain grit!

While some people are naturally more gritty than others, grit is a trait that can be developed over time. By setting clear goals, focusing on progress, and embracing failure, project managers can develop the grit they need to deliver sustainable projects.

Ultimately, grit is what separates the successful project managers from the rest. It’s what allows them to overcome obstacles, stay focused on their long-term goals, and create outcomes that will endure over time. If you’re a project manager looking to succeed in the world of sustainable projects, developing grit should be at the top of your to-do list.

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Dr. Joel Carboni

Dr. Joel Carboni is a highly respected expert in sustainable project management. He is a graduate of Ball State University and holds a Ph.D. in Sustainable Development and Environment. He has over 25 years of experience in project management, including government, finance, consulting, manufacturing, and education. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and events related to project management and sustainability and has worked in more than 50 countries. In addition to serving as President Emeritus of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) in the United States and being a member of the Global advisory board, Dr. Carboni is also the founder of GPM (Green Project Management) and a visiting professor at Skema Business School. He is also the GPM representative to the United Nations Global Compact, where he was a founding signatory of the Business for Peace Initiative and the Anti-Corruption call to action and a contributor to the development of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). Dr. Carboni is the creator of the PRiSM™ project delivery methodology and the P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management and has written training programs on Green and Sustainable Project Management that are offered in more than 145 countries through professional training providers, business associations, and universities. He is the lead author of the book "Sustainable Project Management."

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