A few days ago a friend referred me to a very interesting and attention getting book entitled ‘GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance’ by Angela Duckworth. The author makes her convincing case for the role that one’s grit plays in what we are able to truly accomplish. This is clearly differentiated from ‘natural talent’ or ‘superior intellect’ in any specific area. Rather it is fueled by our sheer drive and determination to achieve whatever our passion … one that might be aided by, however is not dependent on, any obvious or natural talent.
I was reading this book at the same time the news publicized two very meaningful examples of grit in play … big time. The first involves Bethany Hamilton. Perhaps you know of her and that at the age of 13 and while pursuing her passion for surfing, she lost her entire arm to a shark while practicing her sport. Game over? No way! This past weekend, at the age of 26, she placed 3rd in the World Surfing Women’s Pro League competition in Fiji … this as an unseeded ‘walk-on’. Surfing minus one full arm and placing among the winners goes against the grain of conventional wisdom. For us maybe, however for Bethany, simply a little obstacle. Her magic ingredient? It has got to be grit to the nth degree.
The second example involves Nyle DiMarco. He is totally deaf and has been since birth 27 years ago into a family of 25 other deaf members. He just won a dance competition on the TV show … Dancing with the Stars. That’s right. He won and he doesn’t hear a solitary sound. That he actually dared to even enter is admirable and yet he went on to WIN! From what I’ve read and although total deafness is the only thing he has ever known, it hadn’t stopped him from it graduating a university or traveling the world on his own. Enter and win a dance competition … why not? Sheer grit!
Hopefully, you, as I, find ourselves ‘head-scratchingly’ curious. In working with clients I am often struck by the obstacles that we can place and allow to stand between us and what we might really be capable and desirous of doing. Maybe we don’t see ourselves as having the natural ability … or … we simply don’t see ourselves as having the skills and knack that one needs to excel … or … competing with those natural talents makes success seem very unrealistic so we need to pursue something else. It’s as if we have allowed our passion and avid interest in achieving our dream to be hijacked by self-doubt and insecurity. It’s as if we have convinced ourselves that we don’t have a realistic chance of achieving our high dream of success as we envision it.
Think about it. Nyle or Bethany didn’t win a dance or surfing trophy because it made any logical sense … to us. Neither of them have all of the physical attributes to obviously support their skill and drive. Yet what they did have was their daring grit that fueled their passion and propelled them forward … initially to try and ultimately to win. They simply refused to be defined by what others would see as obvious limitations.
Of course this can apply to all of us in any aspect of our lives. The key, as author Duckworth indicates, evidently rests to a large extent in our sense of passion for whatever we are doing … something for the greater good with purpose that has the potential of awakening the ‘grit’ that might reside within us. If we’re determined enough to find and awaken that flame we too can win our dance or surf trophy equivalent. No hearing? Missing a limb? Only an inconvenience, however, apparently, not an absolute requirement for enabling us to accomplish whatever we truly desire. I’m not sure about you but … I’m on it! I’d be interested in your comments.