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Before reading an article on LinkedIn two weeks ago about success and grit, I hadn’t really given it much thought. But in light of the past couple of months, where I’ve been feeling discouraged, unheard by the universe, and ready to give up on the goal that appears the most unattainable (finding meaningful full-time or part-time employment), grit seemed to be a timely concept to explore.

What exactly is grit? Do I have it?

When I went searching for a definition, here’s what Wikipedia had to say:

“Grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective.”

I have plenty of passion; low on motivation at the moment (but nothing I can’t fix). After thinking about the definition for a while, a memory sprang to mind.

University days – in the newsroom of the student newspaper. I was filing a last minute story, sitting at the only free typewriter (yes, typewriter), when I gradually became aware that the editor was standing behind me and looking over my shoulder. I had composed the body of the article, but was having trouble with the opening paragraph. (Journalism 101 – answer the 5 Ws in one sentence, under 35 words.)

When I realized he wasn’t going back to his desk, I went back to work. He watched as I typed this one sentence over and over and over and over again until it said what I wanted it to say. Then I pulled the rough draft out of the roller; fed in a fresh piece of paper; typed up the story with a title and my byline; and handed it to him. He said he was impressed – he had never seen anyone rework a paragraph like that until it was “right.” I thanked him because it sounded like a compliment, but inwardly I shrugged. It seemed like no big deal to me – I was just getting the job done.

“Finish what you started” and “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right the first time” were two popular battle cries I heard constantly during the years of living under my parents’ roof. I had no idea back then that by applying these principles I was developing grit.


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