Five Traits of True Grit

August 2015, Mark bicycling for the first time with his new right hip.

August 2015, Mark bicycling for the first time with his new right hip.

It’s hard to describe the behavior of grit unless you know someone who has it. Sunday I wrote about A Man With True Grit which has become my favorite way to describe my husband, Mark. I used to relate grit to cowboys and believed they had to have it to survive the rugged, wild west, withstanding harsh elements, hunger and loneliness. However, the more I research it and am surrounded by people in a rehab center who are enduring pain and fatigue while living in unfamiliar territory, I’m realizing it’s a trait we all need. So what is grit?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, grit in the context of behavior is defined as “firmness of mind or spirit; unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.”  Five personality traits I see in gritty people are:

  • Determination is a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult.Behind every success there are moments of doubt when quitting appears to be the best option.  A person with grit is firm even though it costs to keep going in the face of failure. They have an unwavering adherence to their purpose. They are unstoppable, firm and strong willed.
  • Perseverance is the quality that allows you to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult. Gritty people are not near-sighted. They are willing to wait, knowing today’s effort is an investment in the long run. They accomplish great things because they are willing to work hard for a long period of time. They have a long-term perspective, understanding the theory of an investment today becomes a fortune in the future. Pain today benefits tomorrow.
  • Endurance is the quality of remaining for a long time. People with grit don’t quit. They keep charging forward despite setbacks. High-grit people recognize the cost of quitting and are determined to stick with it. They don’t give up on the future for an easier present. They would rather die trying than stop and that’s why they usually reach the finish line.
  • Fortitude is the strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage. A person with grit endures disappointments with steadfastness and patience. Because gritty people take on the most difficult challenges, they have an intimate knowledge of failure, but they do not view failure as an obstacle or the finish line. They don’t run from failure, they use it. Each failure becomes a step in the staircase to success.
  • Courage is the ability to do something that you know is difficult, frightening or dangerous. Gritty people are brave and not afraid to do what they believe is right. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the strength to face it. Even the grittiest warriors feels fear, but they face it. Every time we face a fear, it loses some of its power. Fear exerts as much control as you allow it. If you nurture fear, it will grow. If you face fear, it dissolves.

John Wayne 1Life is tough, bringing each of us different challenges. Exercising these five traits will increase our grit and help us overcome our challenges.

I’m grateful for a man who is willing to tough it out while hanging on to hope and his knowledge of God.

What characteristics do you see in a person with true grit?

References:

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition

http://joshirby.com/2014/07/03/five-characteristics-of-high-grit-people/

 

A Man With True Grit

Rehab1

August 2015, Mark in rehab

Here we are again at a rehab center, eleven days after surgery. Since I’ve watched Mark battle rehabilitation for more than twenty-four years, the pain is both heartbreaking and tiresome. It’s difficult not to question why it has to be so hard and painful. One of the benefits of being in a care facility is that we are surrounded by people with similar struggles. Most of the patients here are overcoming a knee or hip replacement, but a few have an even more serious struggle like bone cancer or a stroke. As I get to know each patient here, my heart goes out to them and as I watch their progression in conquering their health challenges, I rejoice. We are surrounded by people with true grit.

Mark was not a perfect candidate for a total hip replacement so he had several tests to determine whether it was a possibility. Every test revealed a new problem such as severe degenerative disc disease, osteoporosis and scoliosis of the spine and osteopenia (a precursor to osteoporosis) of the hips. The results were discouraging and overwhelming. The bone density test reveal he was a high risk for a break. What should we do and when do we give up? These two questions took months to answer.

The orthopedic surgeon gave Mark only a 50% chance of the surgery improving his condition. Mark replied, “I’ve beaten lesser odds,” and decided to go through with a total right hip replacement despite the risks. Mark’s continuing optimism and determination for betterment is one of the reasons why I love and support him so much. He’s taught me you don’t have to be a cowboy to be a man with true grit, which has become my favorite way to describe him.

If you’re old enough, you may remember John Wayne in the 1969 movie, True Grit. There was a remake in 2010, but I preferred the original western of a totally fearless, one-eyed, pot-bellied U.S. Marshal, Rooster Cogburn, who was hired by a determined young girl, Mattie Ross to find the man who murdered her father and fled with the family savings. Rooster was cantankerous and drank too much, but his shooting ability was flawless. He was known as a man with true grit.

The scene that keeps running through my head is the one where Rooster rides his horse into an open area and faces alone a gang of four outlaws he’s been tracking down for days.

One of the outlaws shouts at Rooster, “What’s your intention? Do you think one against four is a dog-fall?”

“I mean to kill you in one minute or see you hang in Fort Smith at Judge Barker’s convenience. Which one will it be?” Rooster haulers back.

“I call that bold talk for a one-eyed, fat man.”

True Grit“Fill your hands…” Rooster yells while putting the horse’s bridle reins in his mouth, drawing his rifle in one hand and his shotgun in the other as he charges towards the four men, shooting with both guns.

Despite the unlikely odds, he does take all four down.

This comparison may seem a little irreverent or uncouth, but it’s what goes through my mind as I watch Mark combat rehab. He boldly confronts each challenge using every ability he has. He fearlessly fights for improvement and gives little thought to it taking him down. He is indeed a man with true grit. However, I must add he’s much better looking than Rooster Cogburn and his language, manners and conduct are nicer too.

We all have something to overcome and having true grit helps us get through it. Right now I’m surrounded not by cowboys, but warriors with true grit and I’m particularly fond of the one I’m married to. Just like Rooster did, I believe Mark will come out the winner too.