by brett farrell
Everyday we are faced with challenges that threaten our mood, our dreams, and our practice. How we react to these challenges or how much they derail us from our desired course is ultimately a measure of grit. Grit is an individual’s persistence of passion over an extended duration of time to achieve a desired outcome. It is a characteristic that stands out as undeniably critical to be exceptional at anything.
The new year is when a lot of us reflect on what we’ve done right and wrong for the past year and how we can do better in the upcoming 365 days. With new year’s resolutions, we see spikes in gym memberships, the roads and trails a little busier with runners, only to taper off in the following months. The loss of drive for a goal is a reality we all deal with in some form, and it is important to know what we are dealing with as we make map our directions for the year ahead.
Grit is what enables us to continue applying consistent pressure over a long period of time and achieve our own mastery in a craft. It is what separates the people with grit from the masses. It is that 10,000-hour rule that Malcolm Gladwell discusses in Outliers. 10,000 hours is roughly what it takes to become exceptional in our practice. 10,000 hours does not happen when we choose to sleep in, when we let our jobs take over our schedule, or when we give in to someone's opinion that our craft isn't important. A high degree of grit enables one to make it fit, no matter what.
It’s not easy, but damn--it’s attractive. It is why those training montages in Rocky pump us up to a level that immediately gets us working out when the movie ends. To see someone putting their passion, drive, and effort into something every single day ignites our desire for our own grit.
So how do we retain the level of grit that we desire? It is the most unglamourous answer imaginable. It is a slog, a grind, and the reality that if Rocky was a real person, he would probably feel like shit during those montages. We will have runs that suck, the ones that we don't want to wake up for, the ones where our bodies are tired and worn down and our mind doesn't feel the motivation we wish to have. Then we may ask: why do it? For the outcome? To win a race? To reach a new personal record? Maybe for some, but the real reward for most of us is grit. By putting in a prolonged consistent effort, we are purchasing stock in a characteristic that will do more for our personal development than any other. The practice of running requires grit and then rewards us with more of it.
The grit that is formed in our craft cannot be used only for this one thing. We need it for relationships, jobs, and the dreams that we chase, and especially those that butt against the currents of our mainstream society. When others tell us that they are only dreams, that this desire in our gut is not a reality, it takes grit to forge upstream.
The next time we wake up in early morning darkness and the cold air outside tells us to stay contained within the warmth of home, remember that we are in an intimate relationship with grit. In that moment, let’s choose to run and grow our mastery in it.