A Case for Grit

As I move through my day, I find pebbles dropped in my pond, creating waves. I used to look at them with gratitude and keep moving. Unfortunately that meant when it came time to write, I had forgotten what the idea was. The muse had moved on to drop its pebble in another pond where someone might actually respond.

What I have learned to do now is pause for a moment and make a note. I might type it into my phone, write it down on a piece of paper or put it as a title in a draft on my blog.  Sometimes this is a brilliant move, especially if I make an accompanying note as to what exactly touched me about these words. Other times, like with A Case For Grit, I simply put in the title and unfortunately that wasn't enough to fully take me back to the moment I heard it. 

When this latter happens, sometimes I just delete my note and let the idea go. Other times like today. I remember enough that the title alone still sparks me to write.  I decided to open this piece with a description that resonates with my feelings about the word grit.  The quote below is by Caren Baruch-Feldman, PhD, and it really nails it for me. 

Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals…This kind of passion is not about intense emotions or infatuation. It's about having direction and commitment.

poster-quote-give-it your-all
Talent, luck,
 opportunity, great ideas - they all play a part in helping us reach for our dreams.  However, I don't think there is any replacement for working towards our goals with sheer determination and grit.  Passion, perseverance, showing up every day, and giving it everything we have creates magic, but that doesn't guarantee our journey will always be easy and fun. Grit takes you on a wild roller coaster ride of highs and lows, twists and turns. It's not for the faint of heart. You need to take a leap of faith off a cliff and learn to fly on the way down. 

Don't believe me? There are so many incredible stories out there. Here are 3 sure to inspire you -
  • Wilma Rudolph overcame childhood polio to win Olympic gold medals in Track and Field
  • After being severely burned in a fire accident at age 8, Glenn Cunningham they almost amputated his legs, yet he went on to become one of the greatest middle-distance runners
  • Erik Weihenmayer - born with juvenile retinoschisis and told he would be blind by age 16 - became an American athlete, adventurer, author, activist, motivational speaker, and the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest.  
Facing challenges that are holding you back? Maybe it's time to start digging deep for your hidden stash of grit, then dive into the deep end with all you have everyday. Do the work, and keep doing the work, until the challenges begin to crumble.  


I speak from experience when I share this. For those who do not know, I answered a Craigslist ad at age 50 to write for a NYC fashion magazine. I had no experience, no resume, no knowledge of fashion or the fashion industry, a terrible wardrobe and my husband cut my hair.  I simple had desire and drive. I answered that ad with absolutely no expectation I would be given a chance.  Surprisingly I was. 

What followed
was a dive into the deep end, with no floatation device. I had to figure out how to interview, get a photo shoot organized, write an article that pleased the person I interviewed, and polish it well enough without help for it to be magazine worthy.  Within 18 months I also became co-editor of a local fashion magazine responsible for finding writers, creating a schedule for content and editing the work of others.  

To say I was over my head is in understatement.  Learning in the public eye instead of in a classroom was also challenging, and very hard on the confidence. I didn't look the part. have the knowledge, or the connections to open doors. What kept me at it every day was I passionately loved interviewing. To book those desired interviews, I had to publish. So every day I got up, sometimes threw up, and went to work. I made tons of mistakes, but I also managed to do many things right. Over time and with practice I steadily hones my skills. I learned by doing and by being open to lessons offered by any criticism that came my way.

Looking back, I realize I probably could have done everything in a way that was less stressful and more productive had I had more confidence, but I can't change the past. The one thing I did get right from day one was to dig deep and find that stash of grit deep inside that helped me plow through my insecurities, my mistakes, the learning process, terrible self doubt and politics. Each step along the way brought me to where I am now. I love what I do, so accept the past as it is.


Another realization that came as I thought about grit was that it took me from the state of dreaming about the future a place of action.  In the past I was too insecure to try - had too little self confidence to even begin. Grit helped me to begin to move forward by simply showing up every day and diving in, to swim the best I could for as along as I could, to let go of mistakes, to keep trying, and repeat that process the next day, and the next. 

Grit is the magic secret ingredient, the special sauce, that can take you from being just a dreamer, to someone who spreads their wings and jumps off that cliff, committing one hundred percent to action.  Are you brave enough to give it a try?