Photo by Andre Klimke on Unsplash
Throughout this month we’ve been looking at persistence. Resilience, courage, and determination. We’ve covered athletic endeavours and building your own spirit through leaning into the hard work, protecting your energy. When I’m working with clients in this area, I often find external sources of inspiration. Looking to others who have pioneered, who have faced gargantuan feats of endurance in their careers or personal lives; can offer extra inspiration. Showing that the human mind and body are capable of so much more than we imagine can shift the internal dialogue from "I can’t" to "how can I?". It’s a hugely empowering exercise.
We all know the story of Roger Bannister. The four-minute mile was seen as an impenetrable goal that runners had been chasing since 1886. The most gifted athletes and coaches for years had chased the dream. Against all odds, in the wrong weather conditions, a student would break the record. Just 46 days later the record fell again, a year later 3 more people broke the record. The power of belief. Looking outwards, dissecting others’ success, helps to reframe our dreams into realities that need planning and working towards.
One of my favourite reads from 2020 and the source of inspiration for this title is The Grit Factor: Courage, resilience and leadership in the most male-dominated organization in the world. Shannon Huffman Polson – an incredible athlete in her own right and one of the US Army’s first female attack helicopter pilots breaks down her experiences of being one of the first, in the face of unbeatable odds. Her book chronicles other women – “her elite pack of tough, impressive iconoclasts” – and their own personal trials in pushing beyond their own limits and redefining the perceptions of what women could achieve.
Turn your nose to face the wind describes the technical approach to taking off in an Apache helicopter. The blades generate some lift but that is amplified by the wind – the resistance provided by the air coming towards the craft generates an upward force. Shannon’s pragmatic book emphasises the need to train to be exceptional, grab every opportunity, and to keep pushing through your own limitations.
“You train for grit by doing things requiring grit.
You train for courage by doing things that require courage.
And you do that by taking smaller risks at first. As you do, you build up your tolerance for uncertainty and your confidence.
Over time, it’s how you conquer fear”
- Shannon Huffman Polson, The Grit Factor
And of course, embracing a growth mindset requires failing and growing. Finding grit is hardest when you lean into your own failures.
When you have the conviction to dream big and create an unshakeable belief that you will succeed you don’t receive an invincibility badge; you aren’t automatically immune to challenge, criticism, or failure. As these emerge, they encourage you to learn, adjust course, become stronger and you will reach that goal. I encourage you to read the book – there are multiple accounts of women who have pushed through. The book doesn’t judge the environment the women grow in, rather they give insight into the exponential capacity that they have developed in that environment.
It’s a testament to what could be for all of us because it’s already proven to be possible!
Read more here!