grace under pressure

wayne_14x48

Lately I have not been living up to my name. There has been no grace shown to my loved ones or myself as work and life seem to keep throwing lowballs all around.

I’ve been reading/hearing a lot about grit lately. Passion and perseverance in the pursuit of long term goals. In the freakonomics podcast on the topic, grit expert Angela Duckworth says there are four traits that gritty people have in abundance: interest, practice, purpose, and hope.

And I’m hung up on hope. Or lack thereof.

I am not a particularly gritty person. My score on the grit scale was a measly 2 out of 5. It comes out to about the 10th percentile of the general population.

Two things stuck out to me as I listened to the podcast, though. The first being the idea of reference bias. We are our own worst critics, and the standards we judge ourselves by are probably much higher than objective measures. When I think about how much grit it takes to finish medical school, run a half marathon, and start over after a divorce,I am reminded that my 2/5 is relative, and also an underestimation of my grittiness. Yes, I get distracted easily and new projects will always be more fun to me than following things through to completion, but that does not make me worthless.

Which brings me to revelation #2: Shame is not a productive emotion.

In yoga, they are always telling you to let go of things that do not serve you. Shame is a heavy load that most of bear unnecessarily. I know it’s broken me more times than I care to count.

Duckworth goes on to say that it’s important to learn to substitute nuance for novelty. It will always be human nature to prefer the thrill of something new. But there is importance and even pleasure in the nuances. I think once you let go of the shame, it’s easier to focus on the interest and the purpose of your goal.

So shed your shame, feelings of guilt or worthlessness or not-enoughness. Feel yourself become a little lighter. We all need a little grace sometimes.

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grace under pressure