My wife share a book with me this week, titled “The Invisible Thread”. It’s a true story about a young businesswoman who passes a panhandling boy on the streets of New York City. They strike up a lifelong relationship that helps both of them.
They boy endures the most difficult upbringing. He is at times homeless, without food, unsafe, and without any adult direction. Yet he endures, and he does so in the most positive way. He grows up, and becomes a father, a husband, and he has started a small business.
I signed up for a 105 mile bike marathon a few years ago with two friends. I was not a serious rider. My friends were serious riders, and would often do rides of 50-100 miles.
It was hot, and I was unprepared. I had the wrong type of bike. After 75 miles, I wanted to quit. My friend Pete said “you can quit, and we will leave you here to die….or you can finish with us and enjoy the feeling of completing this ride for the rest of your life”.
I have no idea where Pete got that from….but we finished, and I will remember the feeling of finishing that ride for the rest of my life.
I recently read about Angela Duckworth, who won a MacArthur grant (one of the “genius grants”) to study grit. She has a new book entitled “Grit”. Her research found that the most common trait among successful Navy SEALS, Ivy League graduates, and spelling bee winners wasn’t intelligence, or size, or speed, or income.
It was grit. One definition of grit is “perserverance and passion for long-term goals” (thank you, Wikipedia!).
Everyone I know who is successful has this quality of perserverance. Every one of them.
Each of them has had to dig deep in themselves and find motivation to keep going, when everything outside of them suggested that they quit. They have all experienced “the hero’s journey”. They have all gone through hell at some point in their lives, dug deep, and came through their hellish experiences transformed.
I sometimes forget that other people have had to go through their own personal hells to get where they are today. I wrongly assume that everyone else has an easy, straight path to their successful lives.
One of my colleagues shared this photo with me:
I forget that the path to success has a lot of potholes in it, and that successful people have to perservere.