We often get so committed to a certain way of doing things that we can see an alternate path to success. We are sure we are right, and the answer is just to commit more, to work harder. We do this often as coaches, just “keep grinding” as a solution to our lack of success.

This opened my eyes as a trap we fall into as coaches a lot. From Adam Grant’s book, Think Again.

When we dedicate ourselves to a plan and it isn’t going as we hoped, our first instinct isn’t usually to rethink it. Instead, we tend to double down and sink more resources in the plan. This pattern is called escalation of commitment. Evidence shows that entrepreneurs persist with failing strategies when they should pivot, NBA general managers and coaches keep investing in new contracts and more playing time for draft busts, and politicians continue sending soldiers to wars that didn’t need to be fought in the first place. Sunk costs are a factor, but the most important causes appear to be psychological rather than economic. Escalation of commitment happens because we’re rationalizing creatures, constantly searching for self-justifications for our prior beliefs as a way to soothe egos, shield our images, and validate our past decisions.

Escalation of commitment is a major factor in preventable failures. Ironically, it can be filed by one of the most celebrated engines of success: grit. Grit is the combination of passion and perseverance, and research shows that it can play an important role in motivating us to accomplish long-term goals. When it comes to rethinking, though, grit may have a dark side. Experiments show that gritty people are more likely to overplay their hands in roulette and more willing to stay the course in tasks at which they’re failing and success is impossible. Researchers have even suggested that gritty mountaineers are more likely to die on expeditions, because they’re determined to do whatever it takes to reach the summit. There’s a fine line between heroic persistence and foolish stubbornness. Sometimes the best kind of grit is gritting our teeth and turning around.