Grit is an integral aspect of the leadership process. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is defined as “firmness of character; indomitable spirit.”
This concept of grit is what worries me. At the end of a recent writer’s retreat, the prolific author, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, spent the weekend teaching authors and unpublished writers about her approach to writing. As she spoke, I notice that I envied Susan. It wasn’t her success that I wanted. She earned her success as a published author. Instead, I envied her firmness of character. I revered her ability to get up at four in the morning and write for eighteen years before going to teach her eight grade students.
As I rode home from the retreat, my mind flashed back to all the times I have changed my mind about goals. I quit teaching young children. I quit writing for children. I sold my leadership development business. I closed our restaurant. I have become skilled at quitting. My turning point is now. I realize that I want to become skilled at writing.
Like a character in a well written novel, who has reached the climatic stage of the manuscript, I worry that I don’t have grit. A decision hangs in the balance. I see two possible outcomes. I see myself tossing this goal aside because I don’t really want to work that hard. I also see myself heading the local coffee shop and setting up my computer to edit my current project.
Then I do it. I start to write. It is not good. It isn’t because I am a bad writer it is because it is a first draft and first drafts are bad. However writing and reading might just prove to be the way to develop grit. I reflect on the writing of Anne Lamont and notice that when my soul sips on poorly executed words for about sixty minutes I know I am on the path to grit, one word at a time.
“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul.”