For those of you who grew up in the rural south, you will be able to relate to the way I was raised. Out in Nowhere, U.S.A., important lessons are learned every day. As a kid growing up there, I had a list of responsibilities that I had to take care of every day-feeding the animals, taking care of the lawn, getting firewood, etc. There was emphasis on certain values that are congruent with that lifestyle. Character qualities like perseverance, diligence, fighting for your way of life, getting things done, and facing even the most difficult challenges. But all of this can be wrapped up in just one word. I don’t know about anywhere else, but in the South we call that Grit.
Grit is an all-encompassing term for doing what it takes to make life work. It is set at such a high value because it is essential to your survival.
So how do you develop Grit?
My parents had one important rule for me, that rung out above all others. I was never allowed to get out of doing something because I was afraid. The first time I camped outside by myself my mom was sure to let me know that I could handle myself, and I needed to stick it out. My first day at karate it was sparring day. I was terrified to step into class. But I am glad my dad would not let me quit. At football camp one year I got yelled and cussed at by the coaches. It was shocking and terrifying to me! I came home and begged my parents to let me quit. But instead, they gave me the encouragement I needed and sent me back out to finish what I started. Does this sound harsh? Maybe, if you are not used to it. But this is how Grit is developed.
Why is it important? Because Grit is the driving force behind Courage. Everyone is going to face something they are afraid of in life. So who comes out on top when it comes time to face those fears? Those who are hard. Those who are tough. I’m not talking about physical toughness. I speak of toughness of the mind. Mental fortitude. Grit.
So here’s the problem. I know you’ve seen it. This value is not being taught anymore. It’s slipping away in this soft world we live in. We live in America, a country built on the backs of hard men and tough women. And now those values that were so important to our ancestors, we have thrown away. It’s time to take back what is ours. It’s time to fight for the things we believe in. It’s time to reestablish the Quality of Grit, and become courageous again.