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  • Writer's pictureJudy C. Arnold

Got Grit?

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

Lessons learned from my daughter...

Have you got what it takes to bounce back? To be resilient despite whatever obstacles you may encounter? It can be personal. It could be professional. Or, it might be that age-old challenge of the balancing act between them.

Recently, my daughter graduated from the US Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS). It was six grueling weeks at Quantico, VA, in 90 degree, humid weather. Rising at 4:30 am (0430) every day, she and her fellow candidates ran over 45 miles through wooded and rocky terrain, waded through murky water in full uniform and gear, completed challenging leadership and physical fitness tests, sat through hours of classroom lectures and academic exams—all on little sleep, and no caffeine! To survive and succeed, candidates had to be extremely fit physically and mentally. They had to push themselves to be resilient and agile, to learn how to think clearly and quickly when exhausted, and to lead their peers by being confident and decisive.

From a shy toddler to a teen tomboy, she struggled to fit in and find her way through middle school and high school. She was harassed by bullies and faced disappointments that caused anxiety and doubt. She discovered the Junior ROTC in 8th grade and her strong leadership and organizational skills developed through her participation in the high school program. She held key roles leading the cadets to winning multiple drill competition awards and even had a leadership award named after her when she graduated.

She pursued ROTC in college and has held several leadership positions. Although it took a few attempts, she ultimately earned a two-and-a-half year ROTC scholarship. Her grades have far surpassed that of high school as she continues to uphold a 3.7 cum. And she is laser focused on a career in the Marines as a JAG lawyer.

No easy path.

How do you navigate such adversity? According to resilience expert, President and CEO of Adaptiv Learning Systems, Dean Becker, it’s all about grit—an unflinching purpose and passion-driven resolve to overcome adversity, recover and continue moving forward over the long haul, no matter what. It’s about agility—being nimble and flexible when facing new and unfamiliar challenges, reacting quickly to the unknown, and being comfortable jumping into action with less than perfect solution sets.

That’s being resilient.

Although I have not had the physical challenges of military training, nor have I worked in a similar strict environment, I have experienced corporate bullies and toxic work cultures, dealt with job lay offs, and faced ageism. It’s difficult to remain optimistic and confident when you feel like the wind is knocked out of you and you doubt your value.

So, how do you “pull yourself up by your bootstraps?” By surrounding yourself with people who care about you—family, friends and co-workers who support you and remind you of your value. Remembering all of your accomplishments and what it took to achieve them. Recognizing that while you may still have things to learn, you are smart and knowledgeable. Create a plan to improve the areas that will make you better and don’t dwell on the challenges of the past. As Dean nicely summarizes, follow the powerful but simple serenity prayer—focus on finding the serenity to accept the things you can’t change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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