Grit is having the courage to push through no matter what the obstacles are because it’s worth it. Leaders with grit take personal initiative, are ambitious, and they have a strong desire to make a difference. They tend to be highly curious, seeking to understand and working diligently to figure out what they don’t know. Leaders with grit will never make excuses; they will always find a way.
I have a story of grit that I want to share. This past summer @Brian Kempisty and I took the @Port X Logistics leadership team on our annual retreat. The retreat is hosted in Montana. Our typical scenario is a few days spent surrounded by mountain views talking strategy and setting goals. The following days are spent hiking into the mountains up to an elevation of 8,000ft-10,000ft where we get to see views most people don’t.
The reason we facilitate a very atypical retreat is to get the team out of their comfort zone and to inspire grit. If you don’t have grit in the business world you surely will not survive. On this particular retreat, we found ourselves in a peculiar situation. Even though we did our due diligence in planning and preparing for this six-mile hike the reviews neglected to mention that the only water source was at the two miles mark and the next available water source was at the lake (which we mysterious were unable to find). Additionally, there was supposed to be a bypass around a two-mile rock scree ledge (12 inches wide with almost a straight vertical drop) that was not marked so therefore we missed it.
Throughout the course of the day, we came across a multitude of obstacles as you would suspect on a hike, fallen trees, muddy creek beds, rocky uphill climbs, etc. The obstacle we did not plan or prepare for was the shortage of water and the inability to locate the lake which was clearly on the map. Did I mention it was July and about 85 degrees and straight sun?
Once we traversed the two-mile rock scree ledge we were again faced with another major obstacle. A straight-up climb to a path that took us to another straight-up climb (we are talking hands and knees climb). As would be suspected the team was right behind us every step of the way, but this is where we needed to make the call. Do we keep going with the hope of finding the lake for water or do we turn the team around to make the 4-mile downhill trek to get back to the water?
At the beginning of this Blog, I mentioned grit as being the courage to push through no matter what the obstacle. But it also means being able to make wise decisions in difficult situations. This was one of those moments. The obstacle was not the additional straight-up climbs we faced, instead, we needed to make the tough decision to turn back for the safety and resilience of our team.
Being a leader who shows grit is knowing when to make difficult decisions being honest about what you don’t know and redirecting your ambition and desire to succeed when things do not go as planned. Brian and I had to pivot that day for the safety of ourselves and the team. Even though we did not make it to our final destination I feel that day taught us all a lesson on how to be gritty when it really counted.
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