This is the second installment of our two part series on “Grit”, defined by Webster as “indomitable spirit; resourceful courage and daring in the face of difficulty.”
- Hang in there.
The temptation to quit can be particularly strong when the going gets tough in relationships, and when we set our sights high, there are always going to be times when our commitment is tested. When he was asked what the secret of life was, the philosopher and spiritual teacher Ken Keyes said, “Just don’t quit”. Wise words.
- Manage your attitude.
Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, stated that “The one thing that cannot be taken from a man [or woman] is the power to determine his attitude in any given situation.” We all possess the power to choose the perspective from which we view things in our life. We can look through lenses of pessimism or optimism, hopefulness or despair, purposefulness or purposelessness, gratitude or grievance, possibility or resignation, goals or obstacles. It really is a choice.
- Strive for excellence rather than perfection.
Perfection requires adherence to what is usually an arbitrary and external criterion and in most cases impossible to attain. Excellence has to do with the trust that we have given the best that we have to our chosen project. Perfection is about adhering to a program or set of expectations that we have internalized from someone else. Excellence is about acting with with impeccability.
- Recognize competing commitments.
For every intention we have there are always counter or competing commitments. The desire to be free competes with our desire for connection. The desire to lose weight competes with our desire to experience the pleasure and other benefits we receive from indulging our appetite. The desire for a great relationship competes with our desire to be in control, to maximize freedom, be right or dozens of other desires. The first step in this process has to do with honestly identifying the competition and then coming to terms with the situation in a way that honors both sides of the equation.
- Cultivate a taste for playing the edge
Many of us have done our best to try to minimize and even eliminate risk in our lives. While indiscriminate risk-taking can be hazardous to your health and well-being, the cultivation of grit requires the willingness to engage in practices that may be outside of our comfort zone or that are unfamiliar. Conscious and responsible risk-taking is an essential aspect this process. The tried and true practices that got us to this point in our lives are not likely to get us any further. Playing the edge is an acquired taste and if done skillfully mean the difference between success and failure.
- Create a support community.
None of the people featured in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers got to where they are on their own. They each cultivated communities of support along the way. The presence of support is one of the things that enables us to be more willing to take risks as it provides us with a sense that even when we experience loss or failure in the process our commitment continues because it is shared with others. Feeling “the wind beneath our wings”, also allows us to more fully trust that we can recover from the inevitable pitfalls along the way because we are not alone.
- Read stories and biographies of people who inspire you.
You’ll not only learn how they did it but you’ll see that they all had their personal challenges and obstacles to contend with.
- Keep your primary focus on your goal or objective rather than the barriers that get in the way.
Obstacles inevitably arise in the taking on of any project worth its salt. Don’t take them personally or interpret them as evidence that your vision isn’t realizable. Remind yourself of other times in your life that you felt discouraged or believed that you were incapable of achieving your goal only to discover that you were wrong!
Remember the words of Goethe who reminds us that: “The moment that one definitely commits oneself then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have otherwise have occurred. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”
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