My whole life, I’ve recognized that I’m not the smartest person in the room. There are always people that are smarter than me. I’ve had to work twice as hard as the other person in order to get the same results. When I was really young, I watched how a tennis player, Michael Chang, show tremendous grit and battled back through one of the most grueling matches against the number one player in the world. From that moment, my mind was made up that no matter what the challenge, I would find a way to out last it and if I’m going down, I’m going down swinging.
“Grit is passion and perseverance for especially long-term goals.” – Angela Duckworth
Between 2008 and 2011, I survived one of the most difficult and stressful times of my life. With a young family of three toddlers I put everything on the line. All-in, as defined by all my personal financial resources, all my emotional energy, heart and soul, everything at risk to start up my company and survive a startup company in a recession. On top of all that, I had a period of 770 consecutive days where the bank called my loan and asked me to repay a million dollars. For me, that’s not something I can find in between the sofa cushions. It was through massive struggle that I was able to solve that issue and actually not go bankrupt.
“Big smarts with medium grit tend to loose out to medium smarts with big grit.” – Martin Tobias
After surviving that, I knew that I wanted to increase my margins. Margin is the space between your load and your limits. I wanted to push the edge out further. I don’t want to ever feel like I’m about to fall off the edge. One thing I did to reduce my stress was start running, I ran a couple half marathons which helped me train to manage my stress and keep me from physically tipping over.
Push the Edge Further Out
Life hits hard. In a period of one year, three people I knew between the ages of 25 and 40 passed away from cancer. Life can hit you so hard and it will keep you down if you let it. I vividly remember the feeling as I walked step-by-step with Shonda, a friend and employee, as she battled through nine months of fighting cancer. After a few months of reflecting, I decided to run a marathon, which would help me push the edge out further so that I might have a fighting chance to get through what random things life throws my direction. I believe that most things in life you can figure out if you have enough time. Staying upright on your feet is part of the battle and that’s done by being physically strong so that your mind can figure out how to break through!
Resilience is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure
Resilience: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. – Merriam-Webster
Maybe I’ve seen too many Rocky Balboa movies and the picture of resilience is when Ivan Drago says to Rocky “I must break you” and they go on to exchange body blow after body blow. Resilience seems to be confused with grit, that the longer you can out last someone the more resilient you are. It’s like you have to be able to pick yourself off the turf for one more play. What if that’s not what resilience is at all?
The key to resilience is trying really hard, then stopping, recovering, and then trying again. – Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan
Upon reading the article “Resilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure”. I found a few quotes in there that talked about:
“If you spend too much time in the performance zone, you need more time in the recovery zone.”
“That if you want to build resilience, you start by strategically stopping. Give yourself the resources to be tough by creating internal and external recovery periods.”
When early on in my entrepreneurial journey, I read entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t. So that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t. Parts of this are very true for me and other parts I’m still figuring out! I’m also still looking at the word resilience and trying to see how much of that I have.
If you’re looking for answers to know whether or not you have Grit and Resilience, register for our event at Seattle Startup Week. Space is limited as we deep dive into this topic:
Grit and Resilience: Do you have what it takes?
Date: November 17 @ 1PM
Location: Google Seattle
Before you attend the event you can also take Martin Tobias’ Grit Test to see where you land on the Grit Scale.
Martin Tobias, Serial Entrepreneur, Investor, Founder, MGT Investments
Anne-Marie Faiola, Founder and CEO, Bramble Berry
Matt Williams, CEO of Pro.com
Peter Chee, Founder and CEO, thinkspace
If you’re looking for some good talks on Grit, watch Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk. Angela also did a talk at Google called “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” which I found to be even better as it relates tech companies and the startup mindset.