Occasionally, I will have an experience which absolutely inspires me. It can come from any number of sources and often from places where I would least expect it. A dear friend was recently diagnosed with a potentially terminal illness. It is the worst kind of illness, as it promises to strip away his vitality and his ability to make his own steam until it strips him of life. These are near certain facts; yet he virtually stands tall and makes those around him feel as though they can rise to their own challenges in a similar way; with grit, resilience and yes, a good attitude.
For nearly everyone, life is a series of challenges. Even those among us, who appear to be living what most would consider the best of life’s experiences, tend to have challenges at varying levels. It is one of the themes of our existence that we live a life of celebratory highs and sometimes crushing lows. If you are lucky, most of life is spent in the in-between region of these two extremes.
No matter what your perceived advantages or disadvantages; grit, resilience and a good attitude can carry you over mountain tops. Grit is defined as strength of character. The definition is easy enough, but what does grit look like when you see it? It’s that nearly indescribable quality in people which gives them the edge. It’s the inner strength people derive from the residue of their difficult experiences which can propel them through obstacles, sometimes against nearly insurmountable odds.
Resilience is how we describe the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. We’ve all seen folks who seem to have little to no resilience and crumble at nearly every obstacle. Beaten back by life’s challenges, they appear to be stuck in neutral or like pin balls being pushed through this experience. What about those people who seem to have one challenge after the next and still press on, against all perceived odds?
I’ve written before about the importance of maintaining a good attitude. I try desperately to attempt to convey this concept to my children, who are at the stage where they have chosen to only listen to me selectively. Attitude can be everything. When combined with the complimentary elements of grit and resilience, attitude serves as the foundation to limitless success. If you can tap into all three, this rare combination can serve as the fuel to propel you through nearly every one of life’s obstacles.
As a parent, I spend a ton of time wondering how to instill this powerful trio into the fabric of my children’s character. It is the paradox of life that we strive to overcome obstacles and achieve some semblance of success and then begin to shield our children from negative experiences and failure. We cheat them when we do this. We cheat them out of the very real developmental experience of failing and living in the stench of exactly what that feels like. It’s in those moments that we make a choice, to never want to know what that feels like again. It serves as the impetus of the magical trio described above.
My friend, mentioned above, is made of this grit and its relatives. He is standing, although virtually, and at the same time drawing on the grit and resilience of his own character and he’s got a great attitude to boot. In watching him, I’ve drawn upon the strength of my own experiences and I am once again reminded that this grit and attitude are in fact the core of the strength needed to break through life’s obstacles. A very small percentage of us have things handed to us, while some of us are forced to blaze our own trails. Blaze your own trail; draw strength from the residue of your failures and adversity, it will serve you well.