Most everyone on the planet cannot wait to see it come to an end. Millions, if not billions of hearts are filled with hope that 2021 will by some miracle be a far sight better. Having faced unprecedented challenges this year, many are looking to the goal line of December 31st as some sort of magical reset button. Before crossing that line, let’s consider the trials of yesteryear because that goal post is about to get moved and not much is going to change unless you do.
On so many levels, the current year was just like any other year: babies were born, young lovers got married, the oldest among us journeyed into the next realm. The traditional ways of celebrating major life events were necessarily untraditional in light of the global pandemic and yet, life continued to happen for each of us. It didn’t look like prior years. It didn’t look like how we imagined it would be. Perhaps that is the telltale description of the year – disappointment, that chasm between expectation and reality.
Generally speaking, humans deal with disappointment from time to time, all relative to the expectations each holds dear. But (also generally speaking), we are most often surrounded by support networks that can pull the one or two who are in the pits up from the doldrums. Life this past year has been the story of most everyone needing to be pulled up at the same time – disappointment on a massive scale.
Ours is not the first generation to have been dealt a life-altering blow to hopes and dreams, and surely will not be the last. Europe lost an entire generation of young men in WWI, would-be husbands and fathers, workers and employers, inventors, builders, researchers and on and on. It was undeniably a setback, but the world recovered. Another world war happened just a few decades later, and the world recovered from that, too. Pestilence, famine, and disease have caused many millions to perish; many more survived. The enduring quality of survivors who push past the pain and loss, who pull themselves and ultimately the world up from the pits, is grit.
I’m not talking about the stuff of Southern cuisine, rather, the ability to carry on in the face of tremendous obstacles. Grit is the coupling of passion and perseverance unaffected by shifting emotions, and often marked by five characteristics:
o Courage – so much more than physical bravery
o Conscientiousness – the desire to do what you must with thoroughness, and do it well
o Perseverance – never, never, never give up
o Resilience – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties
o Passion – an intense enthusiasm for something
Grit is not related to intelligence, nor is it a function of talent or heredity. Grit can be learned and cultivated.
The eve of 2021 is a good time to do a personal grit check. The conditions under which we have been living these past three hundredsomething days is not going to end at the stroke of midnight on 12/31, but you can cross that threshold with a new boldness that propels your world into the light of endless possibilities.