As Thanksgiving approaches this week, I was thinking about gratitude and what has changed in my life since last year at this time. During 2015, I focused on improving my eyesight. Being able to see better and have my eyes work together has been changing my life.
It was a challenging process to create new pathways in my brain and it involved much time, effort and tears. There were many moments when it seemed like it was not worth it. Reading Angela Duckworth’s book, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” helped me see what got me through vision therapy and building my website and videos.
In her book, she discusses what makes someone gritty and it is “critically important—and not at all easy—to keep going after failure” and to have an attitude of never giving up. The pillars are to be: “unusually resilient and hardworking, have determination and direction with passion and perseverance.”
My Israeli dance teacher used to say: “Practice makes better.” Duckworth explains that: “there are no shortcuts to excellence. Developing real expertise, figuring out really hard problems, it all takes time—longer than most people imagine. And then, you know, you’ve got to apply those skills and produce goods or services that are valuable to people. Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
I have found that everything takes longer than I think it should. For vision therapy, I was evaluated after every 10 sessions but really every week when I returned after doing my exercises every session was an evaluation. If I had moved forward in my skills, I was “rewarded” with new tasks that were harder or required training other muscles that had not quite developed.
From Grit: “it is inestimably important to learn to keep going even when things are difficult, even when we have doubts. At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.” There have been many times with building the website, creating videos, changing my vision or in my personal life, that I have felt I have fallen. I loved when Duckworth shared this Japanese saying: “Fall seven, rise eight.” That is what I keep doing, when you are down, get back up and keep going.
Her book inspired me that you can grow your grit! “The four psychological assets of interest, practice, purpose, and hope are not You-have-it or you don’t commodities. You can learn to discover, develop, and deepen your interests. You can acquire the habit of discipline. You can cultivate a sense of purpose and meaning. And you can teach yourself to hope. You can grow your grit from the inside out.”
I think it is inspiring to remember that “even the most accomplished of experts start out as unserious beginners.” I know I look at other travel journalists or video content creators and think they have 7 million followers or articles in 7 print magazines how will I ever get there? But they all started at the beginning.
Duckworth includes one of my favorite parables in her book:
Three bricklayers are asked: “What are you doing?” The first says, “I am laying bricks.” The second says, “I am building a church.” And the third says, “I am building the house of God.” The first bricklayer has a job. The second has a career. The third has a calling.
Do you have “a job (“I view my job as just a necessity of life, much like breathing or sleeping”), a career (“I view my job primarily as a stepping-stone to other jobs”), or a calling (“My work is one of the most important things in my life”)?” What do you want to have?
For me, I want to focus on my energy on “a calling—as opposed to a job or a career—and reliably say my work makes the world a better place.” Duckworth intones that: “a bricklayer who one day says, ‘I am laying bricks’ might at some point become the bricklayer who recognizes ‘I am building the house of God.’” What will you give your energy to? What will you build? Will you spend the time and energy to fix whatever issues are in your body, community or country?
For this Thanksgiving, I hope you are grateful for your progress from last year and I hope you will consider to share your story in my Gratitude Travel Writing Award.
Duckworth shares that:
“Grit depends on a different kind of hope. It rests on the expectation that our own efforts can improve our future. I have a feeling tomorrow will be better is different from I resolve to make tomorrow better. The hope that gritty people have has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with getting up again…To be gritty is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To be gritty is to hold fast to an interesting and purposeful goal. To be gritty is to invest, day after week after year, in challenging practice. To be gritty is to fall down seven times, and rise eight.”
Want to learn more of how Lisa got started and has nearly 900,000 video views? Watch this sizzle reel: