True Grit: Unpacking The G in GRACE

It’s a brand-new year. And as promised, our exploration of GRACE in the WorkplaceTM will continue to be the focus. But before we move forward with that exploration, take a moment to reflect on my 2017 articles about the R in GRACE: Resilience. You might recall how I compared Resilience to Weebles— those famous little toys that effortlessly bounce back after setbacks and always achieve their goal of standing upright. The themes that kept surfacing during the energetic investigation of Resilience were how to break through the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional roadblocks that stand in the way of reaching your goals.

I, myself, didn’t realize how much depth there was to the word Resilience when I began drafting those articles. And since awareness is the first step to self-improvement, I’m now practicing Resilience in ways I could never have predicted, even as recently as the first half of 2017.

This leads naturally into the higher dimensions of goal achievement through Resilience, which requires a special personal attribute. I’m referring to Grit, or the G in GRACE, which will be the topic of this article, and of several going forward.

Defining Grit

Grit is not just for police, firefighters, rescue and other community workers who need to sport that extra layer of fortitude to brave those dangers and emergencies and keep our society functioning. Grit is also necessary for the success of business professionals like you and me. Being knowledge workers, we might be paid for our brains, but we still encounter plenty of our own roadblocks to success, minus the threat of gunfire or flaming buildings.

For us, Grit represents the strength, the framework and the courage to define our vision and realize our goals. It’s determination, or the passion and tenacity to stick with an aspiration you believe in until the end. It’s drawn from the confidence behind acknowledging that your goals are clear and worthy, even if you haven’t yet achieved the coordination or comfort level to set your plan into motion. Rather than your “what”, Grit begins with your “why”.

Getting Into Alignment

In addition to tenacity and some thoughtful protocols to set you on your path to success, being resilient certainly supports your perseverance. But these aspects of Grit must be supplemented with another commitment: A clear understanding of how your goals align with your values. When this synergy is reached, you start to see tasks, activities and efforts not as things you “should” do, but as things you WILL do, because they’re the right things to do.

As you might have suspected, there is a challenge that comes with this outlook. Achieving value alignment in today’s business and social environments is easier said than done. When we exist in a world full of voices shouting in our direction, trying to sell to us, convincing us that fame, fortune and “having it all” are the ultimate aspirations, our life experience becomes a giant mixed message, and our authenticity becomes compromised. We’re then at-risk of normalizing such voices, and of succumbing to contrived pressures and avoidable distractions like FOMO.

“Keeping up with the Joneses”, as it used to be referred to, can be a destructive force that actually detracts from our goal attainment. It’s a sure sign that our values have been distorted, or extracted from the equation completely. Grit then fades away like a snow mound in the sun, as do your chances of career advancement.

In the follow-up to this article, I’ll use a true case study to demonstrate how this value misalignment almost pushed my coaching client Rebecca completely off-course in her career. Both a valuable lesson and a happy ending await!