The powerful combo of grit & grace
I started the year reading a poem written by a new friend. It opened with a line about “grit and grace” and I was immediately captured by how connected I felt to those two words. I felt like the poem was calling to me and that someone really “got” me.
I re-read the poem about the same time I was reflecting on my Dad’s recent passing and his legacy, and noted that it was perhaps “grit” more than anything that he instilled in me — by genes and by example/experience.
Ironically, just days after I discovered the poem, two different friends (in two separate conversations) recommended a book called “Grit: The power of Passion & Perseverance” written by Anita Duckworth. I began reading Grit earlier this month and, wow, does it resonate — for me personally and as a Health & Wellness Coach aiming to help others. I highly recommend it!
So what is grit?
The dictionary defines grit as “courage and resolve; strength of character.” Synonyms: Courage, bravery, backbone, spirit, strength of will, moral fiber, fortitude, toughness, hardiness, determination, tenacity, perseverance, endurance… Yep. That’s me!
But why is grit important — to me, to overall health and well-being, and to reaching one’s greatest potential? Duckworth does a way better job of answering that question, backed by solid research. But I can tell you that my personal transformation story could indeed be one of her research examples. My story is absolutely one of grit — has been and always will be!
According to Duckworth, “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina and sticking with your goals. Sticking with your future, day in and day out, not just for the week or month, but for years… Grit is living life like it is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Here are a few of the things that stood out for me in Duckworth’s research — all align with my personal story and how I aim to live my life:
- Grit is about effort and stamina…progress — According to the research, any effort you make ultimately counts twice toward your goal; making effort perhaps more important than raw talent.
- Grit can be learned, regardless of I.Q. or life circumstance — Most or all of us can improve our grittiness if we want to (this is good news for any of us working toward our long-term goals, purpose and passion).
- Grit is almost always related to a “growth mindset” — A “growth mindset” is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed and can change with your effort. It’s the belief that failure is not a permanent condition, and that we have to be willing to fail and start over with lessons learned. A growth mindset leads to optimistic, not pessimistic ways of explaining adversity, and that leads to perseverance and seeking new challenges that ultimately make you even stronger.
- Mindset really matters — People tend to develop theories about themselves and the world, and those theories determines what they do — (Yep! Been there, done that, and I’ve seen the power when you shift your mindset or theory & self talk to self-love, compassion and acceptance).
- Interest, practice, purpose and hope — These four qualities matter A LOT to a person’s grittiness. And, for those who want to become “grittier,” these qualities offer a path.
- There is magic in the Hard Thing Rule — Duckworth’s Hard Thing Rule has three parts: 1) Everyone has to do hard things; 2) You can quit, but you can’t quit until the “season” is over — or some natural stopping point has occurred; 3) You get to pick your hard thing.
(My Dad instilled in us that we all have to do hard things, and we don’t get to quit just because it’s hard or when it becomes hard. I took this mindset with me to weight-loss boot camp and, thus, set the goal: “I will not quit, no matter what!” I have adopted this philosophy in my life every day and pride myself on “doing hard things.” I find momentum and strength in doing hard things, even if I don’t like or enjoy it at the time. I am living proof over and over again of grit. And, I wasn’t really aware of my actual grit until my late 40’s, so it is never too late! See my “I do hard things blogs below.”
I’ve been known to have extroverted outbursts of passion (and angst) when I am excited, frustrated, angry, or sad — and often when I am faced with doing hard things I don’t really want to do. My closest friends know this well. I sometimes refer to it as a “tantrum.” Does that mean I don’t have “grace?”
I thought so for a while, but now I don’t. At my best, I operate from a place of both grit and grace.
Grace as defined in the dictionary: Simple elegance or refinement; a pleasing appearance or effect; seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion; ease and suppleness… (there are actually a lot of different definitions for grace, including the spiritual — God’s grace, but this is the definition I’m referring to here.) Synonyms: Elegance, poise, gracefulness, finesse.
To me, “grace” is self-defined. You know it when you see it, feel it, experience it…and “are” it. Sometimes a person observes it in you and plays it back to you by complimenting you on handling something well — with grace, or class or style. Or, you notice it when you observe it in others and you think, “Wow, that was really graceful.”
Grace for me is about generosity, kindness, compassion, moral strength, an inner balance and “centeredness” that reflects outwardly in my actions and interactions with people AND with myself. It absolutely includes self-compassion and acceptance. And grace is important because it stems from two principles that I live by: “Treating others as I want to be treated” and as “Showing up in the world as someone who makes a meaningful difference for others.”
Now, back to that poem my new friend wrote…it touched on grace (combined with grit) this way — “Will she have the fortitude to stand and speak her mind, yet do so with the calmness of wisdom, oh sublime?”
That pretty much nails it for me. It’s why the combo of grit and grace are so powerful. I might add to the combo “gratitude.” Grit, Grace & Gratitude. It’s how I aim to be and live. And, it’s in large part what has gotten me to this point in this amazing journey of transformation, of reaching my greatest potential and becoming the very best version of me. Of course, still going, still growing, still becoming…and also still smiling!
If this blog subject resonates with you, I strongly suggest reading: “Grit: The power of passion and perseverance.” Below are also some of my other related blogs on the topic.
Happy New Year all! Cheers to a healthy, happy, in-the-equation YOU.
Other related blogs you may be interested in:
- I do hard things (July 2015)
- Defining success. It’s personal. And that’s a good thing (June 2014)
- Are we done yet? (June 2012)