Over 30 years ago, professor Carol Dweck, Ph.D. first used the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset to describe a new way of thinking about learning and intelligence. Dr. Dweck said, “when students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. Therefore, they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement.” My children’s grade school uses the concept of GRIT to illustrate the importance of perseverance in learning. We never outgrow learning (especially when uncertain environments demand adaptation), therefore the GRIT concept is essential to every evolving professional.
In their book, Grit to Great, How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary, Linda Kaplan Thayer and Robin Koval define GRIT as Guts, Resilience, Initiative and Tenacity. I think we can all agree on how timely this acronym is to our evolving environment. In this article, I am going to show how the concept of GRIT plays out to invite individual and corporate success.
Do a Gut Check
The Guts in GRIT is all about how your passion intersects with adversity. Your work matters – a lot. As an expert in your field, you use technical prowess to give your clients the peace of mind they need to dream big. So when things get dicey – whether it’s (a sustained) busy season, staying on track to making partner, initiating change in a generationally diverse firm, or pivoting in crisis – it’s important to recall and reclaim your “why.” Doing a gut check means bringing intention and focus back to the table. Whether you’re helping a single-parent-entrepreneur grow their business or helping an SMB thrive in a season of intense uncertainty, helping people serves a very high purpose. When the fire starts to go out in your belly, ask yourself the following questions
- Why do you do what you do?
- What makes you excited to go to work every day?
- Which core values motivate you to do your best work?
- When you allow yourself to dream, what inspires you?
If passion and perseverance are the engines by which we reach our long-term goals then resilience is the fuel that keeps us going strong. Angela Duckworth, psychologist and author of the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, describes resilience as identifying how you can make tomorrow better even if you failed today. The lesson of resilience must be applied from the intern all the way up to the partner level if you want to keep your organization healthy. The public accounting profession requires its practitioners to possess technical knowledge, people skills, integrity, innovation and marketing, and sales savvy. Resilience for CPAs means pressing on, even when something doesn’t work the first time or right away and adopting an attitude of optimism, no matter what the circumstance. Harvard Business Review wrote a great piece on this topic – I recommend checking it out to further your understanding of Resilience at Work.
Take Initiative and Practice Like an Expert
“Experts take their overall project and break it into tiny little bits and practice them one by one by one,” says Duckworth. Firms with GRIT go deep in their areas of specialty and take the initiative to continue learning. They also practice like an expert. In our virtual firm, we find success in the granular by way of task management software and CRM. Firms with GRIT are leveraging technology and workplace automation that will help them manage their workload in a way that results in less stress, better client service, higher profitability, and increased capacity. Growing your CPA firm requires perseverance, and perseverance is energized by working smarter, not harder!
Have Tenacity for Your Passion
Ray Bradbury famously said, “love what you do and do what you love.” The nature of public accounting is very client-focused, so a sluggish or non-existent passion will betray you. Some of our best clients show excitement for their industry by enthusiastically sharing knowledge, developing thought leadership, mentoring others, or taking the time to learn something new. When you’re deeply interested in something you’re more willing to go above and beyond and put in the extra effort necessary to accomplish your goals. Passion always generates action! What would translating passion into action look like in your firm? Could it be facilitating a networking event for female CPAs? Hosting a virtual lunch-and-learn for local businesses? Making space in your schedule to mentor a younger colleague? The possibilities are endless.
For CPAs and everyone else, having Guts, being Resilient, showing Initiative and becoming Tenacious is a process. At Inovautus, we love joining accounting firms on their journey toward growth. Whether it’s training staff on how to leverage software to help them practice like an expert or encouraging accounting practitioners to develop their thought leadership skills, we take GRIT seriously. Promoting a growth mindset in accounting firms means we never let you off the hook for your own success. Find out how we can help your firm by contacting us today!