What does it mean to be “Gritty”?
This might seem ironic, coming from someone that just wrote a “Self-Help” book…but I don’t really care to read “Self-Help” books.
I read for entertainment value – to escape to another place and time, to have adventures from the comfort of my own home – I read the “Outlander” Series (yes…all 8 of the books) through 3 times, for God’s sake! (I also almost named my kids Jamie and Claire for the characters, but that’s an entirely different story).
However, as I was walking through the library the other day,the book “Grit” by Angela Duckworth was just begging me to check her out. So I did – I loved it!!
I’ve always loved the word Grit: The idea that effort and perseverance are more important than talent or luck. I am consumed by the idea that if you love something enough, working hard for it doesn’t have to be painful. That if you have passion, and put in the effort, you can achieve whatever it is you put your mind to. This is why I will never tell my son that he won’t play in the NFL or NBA one day, regardless of ‘the odds’…this is why, when my daughter practices “teaching” me at age 9, for hours on end, I sit and listen. Because these are their passions, and I want to encourage them to work hard for what they want. I have no idea how it will turn out for them, but I do believe that pursuit of passion + effort = achievement, and that they can achieve whatever they set their minds to…it may not be easy, or swift, or look exactly as they envision, but that’s beside the point.
Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart…it takes sweat, tears, feedback and more feedback (some might call it failure), rejection, criticism, and endless hours of “doing”, “trying”, and “doing differently”. I consider myself pretty gritty, though – I have a deliberate and unwavering passion for helping people live their very best life, and I find purpose in what I do. No matter how hard it is, or what I have to give up to do this work, I would do it ten times over: because I love it, because I find it purposeful, and because I know that nothing amazing comes without an investment of time and effort.
This isn’t just about being an entrepreneur, or a kid with a dream, though…corporate careers require grit, and established and aspiring leaders in any profession need to be gritty as well. I talk with clients all the time who feel burned out or uninspired – In fact, I talked to 3 of them yesterday. I love helping them figure out why they feel like that, and what we can do to change it…and almost always, it’s rooted in re-igniting (or finding) passion, and discovering purpose.
As I was reading the book “Grit”, it gave me a wonderful reminder that being gritty – working hard to pursue something you love – requires both passion and purpose: An interest in what you’re doing, and a belief that you can positively affect a greater good by doing it. Developing leaders is one of my passions (I find it fascinating), and I find it purposeful (not only for the leader, but for the ones they’re leading!) When it comes to being a great leader, or developing great leaders, I will work my a$$ off, because I love it, and I think it’s important…not just for a company, but for a community…for a world. (I’d love to get my hands on some of our world leaders today!)
If you’re feeling burnt out, uninspired, or ‘stuck’, think about what your greatest purpose in life is – (when I speak to groups about “Personal Vitality”, the exercise I have them do is to envision themselves in the last 2 minutes of their life here on earth, and then I have them journal for two minutes about the message they would want to impart before the leave the world – what is it that you want to be remembered for??)…Try it now!
What is it?
To care for and teach your own children so that they make a difference in the world one day? A parent…
To fight for inclusion and rights for the less fortunate? An activist…
To feed families? A meal delivery service….
To help others live securely in retirement? A financial advisor…
To get young people into their first homes? A realtor…
To care for the elderly? A nurse, a CNA, an Administrator, a Physician…
I actually believe that any job can achieve both passion and purpose, depending on how you look at it….
My purpose – in both life and work – is to be a helper. I am at my most joyful and productive when I am serving in a “helping capacity” – as a leadership coach, as a motivational speaker, as a friend, as a community member, as a parent, as a wife, etc.
I’d encourage you to spend a few minutes today thinking about what it is you want to create with this life you’re leading – and then start figuring out how you’re going to do just that. As I was reminded during my dad’s heart attack last week, our time here is finite – let’s not waste it.