When it comes to characteristics that I find most admirable, grit is towards the top of that list. Grit is defined as courage and resolve; strength of character.
I recently listened to the audio book “Grit” by Angela Duckworth. Her novel explores the power of passion and perseverance. This is one of many audio books I have been listening to lately as I finish up my training for the Race Across America cycling event that is fast approaching in less than a month.
This book in particular resonated with me as I thought about what grit is and how meaningful it is in our personal and professional lives. I’ve also discovered that I tend to like books that resonate with my own identity and also find a new way to challenge my assumptions and open up new doors of inquiry. One of the more fascinating sections of this book for me was the finding that people who were studied would say that they value grit and a determined personality over someone who they felt had natural ability. However, when they choose to hire someone or grade their ability the study shows that people will grade a person who is described as having natural ability or an innate skill higher then they do a person who strives and has grit.
These results, for one, concern me because I think that often we are making poor assessments based on preconceived ideas. Also, I like to consider myself an extremely gritty person. It made me realize that at times it might be necessary to preface some of my ability by stating that I have a reasonable competency to begin with. Determination and tenacity just builds on that foundation.
This weekend I had the opportunity to finish up the King of the Mountain series. This includes three individual races of 100 mile hilly cycling routes here in Southern California. For the last course, the Heartbreak Hundred, I instead decided to take on the Heartbreak Double. This was my toughest training ride so far in terms of the elevation, which measured just over 15,500 feet of climbing over the course. I found myself wrestling with my personal doubts during a particularly steep climb in the first half of the race. As the race progressed and I reflected on the course I realized, “of course it’s hard, it’s supposed to be tough”. One of the aspects that make ultra sports so rewarding is that you have to dig deep inside yourself when things get rough, pull yourself from slumps with positive transformational thoughts and vocabulary, and be grateful to the community that helps you along the way from your crew to the aid station volunteers. The second half of the race went much better and I ended up with negative splits on the 200 mile route. (8:43 first 100, and 8:24 second hundred).
The ability to push forward tactfully when things get difficult is essential in races, in business, and in relationships. I am so very grateful for the challenges in my life because they train me to be resilient and to reach out to my community for support.
When creating a great life story there is always a tipping point when things seem like there is no way out. This is when grit is formed and you find a way to not give up. The struggle you are in today is developing the strength you will need for tomorrow.