I was at a book signing this week for my good friend Eric Kaufmann. He just launched his new book Four Virtues of a Leader. Eric is extremely passionate about leadership and his life is amazingly unique. Eric is a man who lived by himself for over a year in the woods, built a log cabin with his own hands, has meditated for months at a time and has a deep connection to self, the spirit and to a sense of a higher being. He is a husband, father, son and an awesome entrepreneur. His approach to life is one I admire and one that is worth exploring further.
In his book, Eric focuses on the four virtues that he believes are critical to a great leader. They include Focus, Courage, Grit & Faith. In listening to Eric at his book signing, his deep respect for the human experience comes through in spades. We are uniquely human and we all have fear, we all have sadness, we all have bouts with depression and we all have the ability to be great leaders. All of the virtues speak to me in different ways. The one that speaks to me the loudest is grit. Not sure why, maybe it’s because that is what has garnered me just about everything that I have ever obtained in my life.
The concept of grit is a simple one, never ever quit. There is a famous quote from Winston Churchill “never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” I truly believe this, especially when it comes to living our purpose. There is a famous TED Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth on grit. She believes that IQ is not the only determinate of success, that many who succeed have a measure of grit that distinguishes them from their peers. So what is it that makes people gritty? Is it something we are born with or something we learn? Is it something that when taken to an extreme will bring better results or not? How does one measure grit?
I’m not sure I have the answer, but I know that grit has been a key to my success in life. Many might see me as a dog with a bone, holding of for dear life even when it doesn’t seem quite clear. I often speak about the concept of trust and trusting that everything that’s happening is for a reason, we need to trust that the answers will reveal themselves in time. As Steve Jobs said in his 2005 Stanford commencement speech, we can’t connect the dots looking forward, we meed to trust that it’s all happening for a reason and one day we’ll look back and see how the dots connected. As for our individual journey, when faced with challenges I believe we need to figure out what that lesson is and try not to repeat it. If we get a lesson and don’t learn it then we are bound to get the lesson again.
As with my wife and her current situation handling early stage breast cancer. Every day people tell me that they’re sorry for what’s happening. If we look at this from a grit perspective, my wife is earning solid leadership experience. No, seriously, she is growing in so many ways. The chemo treatments are not fun and losing her hair is life changing, but I can also tell you that she has more grit today than she’s ever had. She has more belief in her own ability and knows that she is worthy of surviving and living a full life. I know that she’s scared that it might return at some point in the future, and that she doesn’t want to go through this ever again, but her grit will carry her through.
At this point of my life everything seems to come back to being true to our reason for being, or our purpose, finding our tribe and finding home. As I go through this journey I believe that grit is one of the main contributors to my drive and determination to find my tribe and live my purpose. I’ve realized that this journey is not for everyone, and that’s OK. For me, I can’t live that way. It might seem easier to pursue comfort, the only problem is that this inner voice won’t let me do that. This drive, this need to contribute to the greater good, this inner spirit that moves me to wake up every day is founded in grit. I hope that we can all find the grit inside of us to help us pursue our purpose and live the life we were born to live, not the one we were taught to live.
To connecting the dots ….. one dot at a time!