Grit & Resilience

True Grit

Sitting in a hotel foyer a few weeks ago I overheard someone giving their colleague a pep talk.

“You’ve got to be more resilient,” they said abruptly. “You know, you’ve got to show some grit. You’ve got to toughen up!”

It was hard not to feel sorry for the recipient of the message as they sunk deeper into their seat looking defeated.

Walking away from the hotel after my meeting, I couldn’t help thinking about the poor person being told to ‘toughen up’. As I walked further I was reminded of a quote from Mark Mason:

“Who you are is defined by the values you are willing to struggle for”

Often today when we think about resilience we’re drawn into a masochistic belief that we need to be stronger in the face of the challenge or adversity confronting us, and that ‘being stronger’, is almost an end unto itself. Although this form of resilience is useful in the short term to overcome immediate challenges, sustaining this belief clouds our perception of what’s really important and leaves us existing as if continually under siege.

When we explore beyond these periods of immediate challenge, we recognise that the true grit and resilience we need to display in life comes from contemplating the question of:

‘What am I really willing to struggle for?’

Within the concept of ‘struggle for’ is the need for sacrifice. This is not just a further extension of the ‘no pain, no gain’ cliché. It’s a recognition that by answering the question of ‘Why am I here?’ to discover what is important to us, we must also answer the question of ‘How will l lead and live?’, which helps us direct our attention and energy appropriately. It’s in this place of directing our attention and energy that defines how important something is – i.e. what we are willing to struggle for.

Many people fail to realise their full potential and achieve what they state is important to them because they don’t direct their attention and energy mindfully. That is, they remain prepared to be distracted by other priorities as they arise.

To help move beyond this distracted state we must recognise that true grit and resilience can only be applied relative to the perceived cost of failure. For example, I’ve been inspired by the number of ex-servicemen who after losing multiple limbs in conflict have learned to walk again. For these individuals the cost of failure is clear – if I don’t learn to walk, I will be bed bound for the rest of my life. Although these are extreme examples, they provide us with useful prompts to consider the true cost of failing to achieve what’s important to us, which intern gives greater emphasis for directing our attention and energy mindfully.

It is only through consciously discovering what’s important to us and the cost to us if we fail that we can then consciously direct our attention and energy on living with greater purpose.

Something to consider…

Think of a time when you applied true grit and resilience. At that time what was most important to you and what was the cost of failure?

Something to try…

Consider what is most important to you today. What are you prepared to sacrifice to achieve that and how can you act with more mindful intention to direct your attention and energy?

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