Grit: A Manifesto for Growth

For a long time, I thought of grit as something divinely gifted to elite athletes, acquired by competitive and successful corporate executives or reserved for the extremely disenfranchised who end up grinding it out and ultimately succeeding in one way or another.  For whatever reason, I incorrectly assumed that grit was a quality (like being double-jointed, for example) that some of us lack, and couldn’t cultivate even if we tried. What I didn’t know then is that the same qualities used to define grit—resolve, perseverance, tenacity—are present in all of us.  You may not see evidence of grit in every facet of your life, and that’s fine. What matters most is that this steadfast determination reveals itself differently in each of us, and to varying degrees, depending on what we encounter. Make no mistake about it. You have grit. We all do.

It’s the quality that gives us the staying power to fix what needs fixing, resolve the unresolved and examine what’s not working or could work better, even when we’re exhausted or experiencing our own personal version of Hell.  Perhaps more importantly, it’s the quality, in my opinion, which enables us to accept some painful truths about ourselves and our lives, and it helps us build a capacity for tolerating the intolerable. It’s the quality that illuminates the path to healing, which I believe is the most fundamental aspiration for body, mind and soul.

Grit is the unrelenting aspect of you that makes you, well, you.  And don’t worry—even if things aren’t going well and you’re desperately searching for your white flag from the last time you got your ass kicked, I can assure you, the grit never left.   It may be covered by a hundred stories you’ve created about yourself, your station in life and the world as a whole, but the grit is still there, underneath it all, waiting for you to reclaim it.

Consider the dictionary’s synonyms associated with grit—strength of character, strength of will, steel, stamina, endurance, guts.  Think of the toughest things you’ve encountered in your life and you’ll realize those qualities of grit are exactly—and maybe even exclusively—what helped you prevail.  And by prevail I don’t mean win. I mean you moved through it. You may have changed through the process, but undoubtedly, you came out on the other side. And if things seem worse now than they did before, grit plays an essential role in examining what happened and why.  Grit enables you to either shift what’s not working, accept undesirable consequences or prevent a crisis, trauma or difficult situation from becoming your new identity.

Using your strengths and resources, we will examine your challenges and decide what you’d like to explore in the therapeutic setting.  The good news is, you won’t be doing it alone. If you have a job, relationship, emotional state or communication style that isn’t going well, or even if you’ve just noticed a pattern in the way you relate to yourself or the world and want to explore it, I’ll help you do it so you feel supported and guided.

We’re strangers at this point, but I already know you have the grit to achieve your therapeutic objectives. How do I know?  You clicked on my website. You’re halfway there.