I remember getting laid off from a job some years ago. It was just before Christmas and I was not a happy camper. At the time I remember being hurt, frustrated, and a bit shocked. I remember Chris was traveling for work in Turkey at the time and communicating with the time difference was complicated. The fact of the matter is that I wanted out, yet I had not walked away on my own. When things do not go the way that we plan, we fight back, get down on ourselves, and often wonder “why me?”
Yet, with hindsight we can often see the world with different eyes. Hindsight might take a few years, a few months, and sometimes with the smaller things just a few days. What matters is that we are able to reflect and see that where we end up is often so much better than where we were and that we learn, grow, and change as a result of these events in life. For me it was a job. For some it might be a marriage or friendship. For others maybe it is a health challenge.
I often think how we act and react in the world determines what our experience will be. I will give you an example. When I got laid off and had a few months of severance I could have relaxed and just kicked back. Instead I started this blog, I looked for jobs, and after three months landed a great one. Looking back though, yes I was successful in my endeavor, but the caveat was I did not take that time as downtime to explore and cherish that quiet time as much as I should have at the time. I was worried I would not find a job, that our income would be lacking, you know the list of things we tell ourselves.
I recently wrote about the book: “The Gratitude Diaries” by Janice Kaplan. She writes about a job she herself lost and what her friend shared with her after the fact:
“’Your leaving was the best thing that could have happened, don’t you think?’ Walter asked. I looked at him in surprise, so he continued. ‘It didn’t make you happy at the time, but you would have been miserable staying there while he went off in all the wrong directions.’ Sometimes the simplest comment gives a new perspective.” Page 252
Kaplan is so right. Sometimes the smallest and largest things blow our life apart, and we are never the same, but often we are better for it. We just have to remember that sometimes life gets blown apart so it can be made even better.
Yesterday my team went out to lunch and one of the items we ordered was polenta fries. One of my favorites especially with the dipping sauce that often comes with them. I found that polenta fries are not something that everyone had tried before. Polenta made from cornmeal make me think of southern cooking most likely because of the cornmeal and how similar it is to the texture of grits.
Which leads me to the true topic of this blog post. Grit. Yes, polenta fries at lunch made me think of grit, which made me think of the book I recently finished called “Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck” by Jon Acuff. He has a plethora of ideas about careers, and adds in some great ideas about empathy and grit. Empathy is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. I can often plow through the day checking items off the long to do list, going from thing to thing, and while people are my top priority, it might not always come across that way. Acuff gets right to the point and this idea kept it simple for me to remember the two components of empathy:
“At times, empathy will feel complicated, but it’s not. It only involves two things: Understanding someone else’s needs. Acting on them.” page 191-192
I can do that. Understand, and act on needs. Can you?
Which leads me to grit. Gosh, I love that word. What is it about the word grit that makes me think of rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty? Doing whatever is necessary to get the job done. Sweat, blood, tears. Well I prefer just the sweat, I can leave the blood and tears behind.
“Grit is being stubborn in the face of fear. Grit is the first time you try something and it’s the thousandth time too. Grit is believing in can when can’t is loud. Grit is expecting fear and moving forward anyway.” page 213
Folks often call me relentless and it is true. If I get something in my mind that I am going to do it, well I do. I do not always care what it takes. I am going to find a way to make it happen. It takes grit to do that. I am stubborn and I am going to move forward anyway. Want to roll up your sleeves and join me?