Growth, resilience, integrity, tenacity.
What is grit? It is a non-intellectual trait defined by psychologist Angela Duckworth as “passion and perseverance combined, for a long-term goal.”
“Grit is sticking with your future, day-in, day-out. Not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years. And working really hard to make that future a reality.”
You see, I’ve always thought that it’s always about one’s passion for something that attracts me. But even your passions can run shallow without grit — without the perseverance running in your veins day in and day out, without growth, resilience, integrity, and tenacity exuding your every action. For sure it sounds tiring to be in that enthusiastic #grit kind of mood every time, but if there’s two things you can pick up from this long note to self, they are that (1) grit isn’t always about fighting and keeping a fast pace, (2) grit isn’t in any way a reason to lose your ethics (and poise) over.
Sometimes promises don’t create progress. And whether it’s the people or the circumstances that change, what matters is that there IS in fact change and we must be able to not only adapt to it but learn from it.
“Know when to roll with the punches and when to throw them”
Growth is also not about being able to throwing the hardest, strongest punches at any given time, but knowing when you need to roll with them, too. We grow as people when we realize that not each battle is yours to fight. No, this doesn’t mean that the battles you lost weren’t your fights to begin with. And no, this is not an excuse for you to be passive. This is about being mature enough to recognize a knee-jerk reaction vs. a rational recoil. This is about realizing when a fight is actually worth it.
I’ve always related resilience to the action after the storm. And while that concept may be completely irrelevant if not fictitious here in the country (basing on national governance alone), actions after personal, internal storms are very real and important. There are storms we walk into — the ones that are completely avoidable but we find ourselves in the eye of it anyways; there are storms that find its way to us — the ones that are unavoidable on the count of we had neither clue nor warning that they were approaching. And while both ask for a great deal of tenacity, the resilience after storms pass are needed for our personal, emotional endurance and ultimately, growth.
In life, we are frequently scarred and scathed with each storm we face. But these battle scars are proof of resilience: that we managed to stand up after these storms pass.
If you think that each problem can be overcome just by your strength and will, then you’re bound to lose. Even villains have growth, resilience and the tenacity. But what separates you from the bad guy?
This is not a lecture on right or wrong. That’s really for you to gauge.
In any given situation, you might find yourself saying that “the ends may justify the means”. I would disagree and say that it is, in fact, the means you employ that define you, not the ends you achieved. Let’s put the former quote to context too:
Machiavelli never said, “The ends justify the means” That is a mistranslation of the Italian original si guarda al fine. The actual meaning is “one must consider the final result“, out of the the phrase “and in the actions of all men, and especially of princes, where there is no impartial arbiter, one must consider the final result.” [Source]
How will your actions define you as a person? You will constantly live in conflict with yourself if you keep thinking that actions without integrity are justified when the ends look promising. And I meant to use the word “promising”. Remember that the decisions you make along the way should be accounted for when calculating your “end”. That, and life throws pretty sharp curveballs.
I sometimes think of my troubles and bad habits as a fast car going downhill that I cannot steer. The wind from the windows is that feeling of thrill, of comfort. My foot is on the gas pedal and while I know I can just as easily let go and hit the brakes, I let it revolve a little longer. And as I drive on, I inadvertently run past good opportunities and great people, thinking that (a) I can always go back and that (b) there are better things ahead. The thing with cars that go that fast is that the only things that are going to be able to stop them are your brakes (if they’re strong enough), or if they hit something much stronger (a wall, maybe).
You’d probably be crazy to think that you’d be able to change right before you hit that wall. And sometimes, while walls stop us temporarily (and of course, cripple us forever if we’re even lucky to get out alive), adrenaline from bad habits are like poison that takes tenacity and integrity to kill. It takes a brave person to decide where to draw the line for bad habits and when to finally stop and say: That’s it. (Preferably before it’s too late.)
The strength to go on and keep fighting is only justified if actions are done with integrity and if the past has gotten you to grow.
Grit is the Force that should be strong in you
This is my power word for 2016 and all the years here on out. May the choices I make, and the actions I take embody the passion, the perseverance, and the purpose of my being. May they yield the growth, resilience, integrity, and tenacity that I wish to embolden.
And may this Force always be with you, too.