I’ve never been the most talented athlete. As a child, I was a gymnast, long jumper, softball player and diver, but I was always mediocre at best. (Don’t ask about the year I joined my high school tennis team. Some things are better left in the past.)
Even now, as a runner, it doesn’t come easily to me. Speed is not my strong suit.
But grit… grit is.
It always has been.
What I lack in natural ability, in all areas of life, I’ve made up for in stubborn persistence.
This past weekend I witnessed over a hundred women on the trails of the Algonquin 50k plunging into the grit zone to cover 32 miles, through knee-deep water and shoe-sucking mud.
It was HEAVEN!
And it was HARD.
Every single one of us experienced pain, setbacks and moments of doubt.
Just like in life.
Some phases of our lives can feel almost unbearable, but the most powerful moments aren’t necessarily the moments when things are going well or when we reach our goals.
Sometimes the most powerful moments are the dark moments when we feel like we can’t go any further, and somewhere within us we find the strength to take the next step, and then the next and the next… and in the end, we prove to ourselves yet again that we CAN.
The difference isn’t talent or luck. The difference is GRIT.
Grit is the key to not only overcoming setbacks, but capitalizing on them as sources of growth.
So what exactly is grit?
A quick Google search produces various definitions, including this one, which I like:
“Grit entails working strenuously to overcome challenges and maintaining effort and interest over time despite failures, adversities and plateaus in progress.” – American Psychological Association
But perhaps the clearest way to understand grit is to understand what grit is NOT.
According to Angela Duckworth:
“Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something.
Instead, grit is about having… a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow. Talent and luck matter to success. But talent and luck are no guarantee of grit.
And in the very long run, I think grit may matter at least as much, if not more.”
Here is where the power returns to OUR hands:
We might not have control over our natural abilities or luck, but grit is 100% within our control.
That moment when we're faced with yet another setback on our path, when the decision to push on or throw in the towel is staring us in the face... and we push on…
That moment when we remember WHY we're doing what we’re doing, and we dive in head first to tackle the toughest parts…
That moment when we think we can’t go any further, and yet we do…
THOSE are the moments that determine our success.
And our choices in those moments have nothing to do with luck or talent, and everything to do with that indomitable spirit inside us…
That part deep inside us that knows exactly who we are and what we're capable of…
That part of us that we access when we're forced to dig deep, and we realize we can dig even deeper and deeper still…
That part of us that knows we can and will succeed, no matter what setbacks we encounter…
That part of us that will not stop until we do.