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The subtle art of positivity

What does being positive have to do with esport?

Or even more so,

What on earth does positivity have to do with performance?


So first off, let’s talk about GRIT.  

Unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard of the term ‘GRIT’ which is a concept popularised in recent years by an academic called Angela Duckworth. If you haven’t already, I recommend having a look at what it’s all about in her infamous TED Talk (link here:

With reference to its true meaning, grit is the bits of dust, pebble or dirt that often you find ending up in your eye, or in your shoe, and when it’s in there, it just Never. Gives. Up. 

It’s relentless, hardy, and utterly annoyingly perseverant. No matter how much you rub your eye, or move your foot to get more comfortable, that piece of grit is not moving until you move it. This is grit. 

As a personality characteristic, that is who and what you want to be. You want to be a piece of perseverant and relentless grit stuck in someone’s shoe grinding away until you get out. 

So, hypothetically, you are the piece of GRIT in your worlds’ shoe, and to get OUT is your ultimate long-term goal. 

Your OUT could be anything, your team winning the LEC, you reaching your fitness goals, or achieving a life-long dream!

This is grit, choosing what you are passionate about and being gritty enough to get it no matter what. 


Okay, so how do I cultivate this GRIT you speak of?

So, let’s say you were this piece of grit. Imagine it for a second. 

If you are like me, you are imagining a small, grey, coarse and hard little object? 

Right so now, what if you altered your perspective a little bit, and changed how you saw this piece of grit. Instead of seeing it (and you) as this piece of dark and hard matter…see yourself as hard-y, committed to getting out no matter how much you have to endure, and not dark but possessing unbreakable focus on your passion to get ‘OUT’. Lastly instead of seeing yourself as small, remember that even the smallest pieces of grit stir the entire mass of mind and body. 

That’s a bit more positive isn’t it! Sometimes a little change in your perspective is all you need to see a big change in your emotions. 


Emotions you say?

Grit, with reference to psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based upon an individual’s ability to persevere in the face of adversity to achieve ones’ goals and desires. For you to experience grit in esports, this may be setting a goal like winning the FIFA world cup and pursuing it with all your mind and body, despite the obstacles that you may face. You can’t control the grit of virtual Ronaldo, but you can control the grit of the human that controls him from behind the screen. 

Grit is the umbrella term for lots of little side hustles all coming together as one. One of the hustles that this article aims to address is the hustle of positivity. 

Being positive is so important that a branch of science exists that is currently exploring the power of positive thinking, it’s called positive psychology. The crux of this research is the belief that a set of positive emotions, including joy, interest, happiness and love have been shown to broaden a persons’ mindset (Fredrickson, 2004). A broadened mindset as opposed to a closed mindset aids in facilitating creativeness and social bonds, and increasing intellectual, physical, social and psychological resources. These resources that you build can help you when you face adverse events and need to draw upon your coping mechanisms. 


So how can one increase positive emotions?

There are many ways that you can do this. One such way is by practicing gratitude. Continuous practice of gratitude has been shown to relate to greater levels of life satisfaction, well-being, social behaviour and optimism.  

Gratitude is a disposition that can be learned and employed into everyday life. In e-sport, players are faced with high levels of burnout due to long scrimmage hours. Grit developed through positivity can aid in decreasing levels of burnout and stress. 

Developing a consistent mindset of positivity through the practice of gratitude will facilitate your level of grittiness. This will enable you to pursue your goals and dreams relentlessly without letting little ups and downs stop you in your tracks. 

Some tips and how to start.

  • Every day when you wake up write down three things that you are grateful for. 
  • Reflect on each of them individually and dwell on the positive emotions that they bring you. 
  • Try it consistently and watch your passion and positivity come alive. 

So to summarise, you want to be gritty. To develop grit you need to develop a passion so bad for achieving your goals, that you can adapt and overcome any adversity due to your unbreakable perseverance. There are lots of ways to develop grit, but one way to start is by introducing a positive mindset to your daily life through the practice of gratitude. 

For example, I’m grateful I can write this article for you, and I’m grateful that you are here to read it. 

Get happy getting gritty.


Kate O’Keeffe

Former performance coach of the professional league of legends team, Fnatic. She has 11 years of experience teaching, coaching and performance consulting to an array of traditional sports at all levels including; swimming, ice hockey, chess, athletics, Gaelic football and hockey.

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