Grit and love for one another got many of us through the pandemic.
Grit has reemerged in culture as the main predictor of success in life. Some professors make their life focus and area of study about grit.
Unsurprisingly, grit is the critical success factor in people across all socio-economic, ethnic, and educational categories. Grit is consistently one of the number one predictors of success in study after study of human performance across all cultures.
Grit includes the ability to endure, persevere, and remain steadfast in attaining a critical and meaningful short or long-term goal without giving up amid the storm.
Grit produces stamina and a never-say-quit attitude, especially when you have your strong reasons behind a goal, "your why, the unique motivation" behind your goal.
Grit is sticking with something day in and day out regardless of most conditions.
Consistency, stamina, endurance, and perseverance all help describe grit.
I once heard that grit involves sitting down only when a critical task is complete.
What Webster Says
Webster currently defines grit in part as “firmness of mind or spirit: unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger."
In 1913, Webster’s dictionary defined grit differently in part as "Firmness of mind; invincible spirit; unyielding courage; fortitude. C. Reade. E. P. Whipple.
Some say the word grit first appeared in our culture around the early 19th century, depending on which source you read.
You won’t find the exact word grit in the Bible, but the meaning of the word has been around since Biblical times.
The word grit was repackaged to fit into modern times.
Steadfastness and endurance are two keywords that describe grit, as mentioned above. These words have been around for hundreds of years.
I like how both of these words describe grit.
If interested, read my short blog article about why Steadfastness is crucial in overcoming life challenges.
Steadfastness and endurance in life are discussed in many places, including 1 Corinthians 15:58, Luke 21:9, and in places in the Old Testament.
Faith is the backbone and fuel of grit, especially in a strong community.
Developing Grit Is Connected To Reaching Your God-given Potential
Developing grit is a priority if you want to reach meaningful goals in life.
We teach many life skills in our running and track and field programs.
However, teaching grit is at the top of our list and a huge priority because it is vital to success in all aspects of life—college, careers, relationships, service, personal health, and much more.
Said another way, to run your life race to win, grit is essential to learning how to reach your God-given potential in many important aspects of life.
Grit learned in a healthy and purpose-driven team setting is beneficial and something you’ll never regret learning, whether participating in high-performance teams in the workplace later in life, in personal struggles, or serving and loving others in challenging circumstances.
One Example Of Grit In Action
I led a group of students who met six days a week during scaled-back seasons during the Pandemic outside to run each day with all the meticulous and ever-changing rules.
I will tell that story in a minute, but I need to say a few background words about the culture at the time of the pandemic first.
The pandemic was brutal on many fronts of daily living and a massive adjustment in every person's life.
I will never discount or minimize what nearly every human felt during that era.
For some, the pandemic was a matter of life or death. I lost my father during the COVID period, not from COVID-19, but the impact of COVID was still pretty tough.
In his dying days, we (including my mom) could not visit my dad in his room near his death and had to stand outside with a cell phone to talk to him through a window as he was dying in a medical facility.
We also had restrictions about who could come to his funeral, what we did at his funeral and the celebration of life after the main service.
I gave my dad's eulogy and was struck by not only the normal sorrow of losing a loved one but also by how COVID-19 had added additional sorrows, like not being able to grieve as usual due to all the restrictions.
Times were tough for almost all people emotionally during the pandemic in many ways; all had various levels of grief and loss about something or someone.
What we all shared was a loss at some level. I will not judge or marginalize anyone's pain.
For many, new thinking was also required to complete routine daily tasks, even in the more minor things of life like running.
Running And Exercise Took On New Meaning
Running and exercise took on more importance in some ways during the pandemic and became a tool and outlet for mental health to get through the Pandemic, regardless of the person's reasons.
You would see more runners and walkers out than ever on the roads because exercise like running was something you could do with restrictions outside.
I wrote beginning running programs in my blog that I later found out were used by many first-time runners who started running to cope during the pandemic.
Running outside for most kids' in my world at the time was the only social outlet for them during the Pandemic. We had a fantastic turnout in a small school, about 40% of the school at times.
Over the entire Pandemic running outside, we took about 5,000 daily temperature readings.
Temperature readings of every single student were required at practice in addition to temperature readings at the beginning of the school day.
We had up to 40 kids outside each day for months, which was about 40 percent of the school, taking temperatures, asking detailed health questions, and social distancing outside in organized small pods, yet most of the kids continued to run day in and day out.
Use Grit When Incentives Change
Meeting day after day, week after week with few discernible external incentives, scaled-back races, no state championships or big races to look forward to, and no real carrots in life to chase after was no easy task for these kids.
The kids even had to wear masks while running outside based on the rules set by state and local officials during the pandemic for quite some time.
However, grit still blossomed and lived intensely amid the pandemic storm inside these kids.
This group of young people's collective steadfastness, courage, endurance, stamina, and perseverance were awe-inspiring to me and something I will never forget. Students prayed for each other, encouraged one another, consoled each other, sometimes vented in healthy ways in small groups, and were there for one another during the pandemic storm with no one watching, clapping, or not even getting even a high five for a job well done after a great workout.
Social distancing rules precluded the usual display of camaraderie due to regulations about physical closeness during the Pandemic.
Like normal times, you could not even sing Happy Birthday loudly as a song for fear of spreading germs, but the kids still found ways to acknowledge each other.
Having the work ethic and dedication to show up each day was an encouragement to all, including me. Running during this time gave us all a common purpose and a place to work out the stress of the pandemic.
Words do not do justice to the Grit, Steadfastness, and Endurance I saw in this small group of running kids during the Pandemic.
Though it is tough sometimes, grit can live in champions' hearts, souls, spirits, and minds regardless of conditions.
Grit grounded in love normally finds a way to overcome, to breathe new life in bad or challenging situations when it seems like there is no visible way to get through what you are facing.
Grit is being steadfast with endurance backed by love and faith for the greater good in a real-life storm.
Wrapping It Up
Be an example to others when pursuing meaningful and purpose-driven goals. Pursue life by giving it all you’ve got by helping, encouraging, serving, and, most importantly, loving others through your actions amid the storm.
Make grit part of your life story, especially in great times of change.
So, when you step out that door next time when it is raining outside, the wind is blowing and howling, and you would rather stay in that lovely, warm, comfortable bed, remember what grit means and those who came before you in difficult times in history.
You are going out for more than just a simple run or running an unimportant race.
You are developing grit that serves you well now and in the future in ways that might not be apparent yet.
Many girls and boys stuck together through thick and thin during the pandemic and returned to win team state championships, team podium spots, set PRs, and win individual state championships. Thee grit and love for one another during good and challenging times will permanently reside deep in my heart.