This week, we talk about the word “grit” and what it means. Grit is defined as passion and perseverance in pursuit of long-term goals. There are several reasons why grit is on my mind.
1) It was a word my mother used with my sister and I as we grew up and experienced our own trials and difficulties, and I believe the Russian-German blood is an extremely stout dose of grit that they still pass along to this day. And the earliest definition I hold of it is true to the work, in gritting your teeth and get it done as my mom always said.
2) I heard the word used in a speech last week that I couldn’t have agreed more with the context it was used in and will talk on more later.
But the biggest reason is given where we are at in our family’s life, and our kids and their sporting activities. Our twins are 10 years old, both playing different sporting events, and both getting the opportunity to experience real life, which is losing and failure. Both have desired to play on traveling teams, not because we have wanted them to, but because they desire to do so. The beauty and the evil of these travel teams are that they teach losing and failure at a very young age. And my wife and I finally realized a few months ago, after a few years of being involved in kid’s sports, observing our kids, other kids, other parents, etc, that we had very much failed at one thing in parenting at this point, and that was to have grit and a killer instinct on the “10-year-old battlefield” called kid’s sports. Much credit to my wife, as we had taught our kids their whole entire life to be kind, caring, compassionate, a servant, and a leader (my first lesson of leadership was Nash at age 4, and he thought that was to be the leader in the front of the line, in which the teacher reprimanded him for always pushing his way to the front of the line..!). And taught them to do it, show it, not just think it. But, the downfall to this is, those traits alone don’t create success. And we had taught the exact opposite character traits to our children so intensely and intentionally, that it has caused them some failures in sports.
So, about 3 months ago, at the age of 9, given the world of kid’s sports, and our kid’s desire to play (because we do not push them or ask them to play, they must have the desire and passion to play on their own), we began the life lesson teaching of “flipping the switch” when they step on the court of field. We began to teach them not just about pushing themselves, about giving it 110%, but about being the best person on the court and working to beat other kids if they wanted more playing time. We also began to teach them about having an extreme level of grit, determination, and perseverance, and also a killer instinct, because given their genetics and their parents playing experience, we must possess more grit than anyone else out there, because in some cases, the talented kid often doesn’t have to work as hard and doesn’t have as much grit, and you can beat them with mental toughness, heart, and more determination, perseverance, and grit. And we know that research shows Grit is usually unrelated or inversely related to talent. And our kids must have more than others to see the court or field more than those with more talent.
The main key we must all keep in mind, is all of this kid’s sports craziness is okay, as long as we remember that we are teaching long-term lessons of life, and sports are only a platform for them to experience both winning and FAILURE, which is great, but that sports are not their purpose. They must “flip the switch” back once off the court, forget the “platform”, and go back to their purpose, and for our kids, that is to be a kind, caring, compassionate, servant leader. Not to be an average at best talent sport kid, trained to have a killer instinct, to play angry, to play with a point to prove, and a chip on your shoulder, but to have more perseverance, more grit and determination, more mental toughness, and a huge heart to win at life! Even if they become a professional athlete, sports is only a platform for them, it is not their purpose. The Philidelphia Eagles “get it”. Led by the extraordinary individual Carson Wentz, they buy in to and believe that sports is only a platform, for them and their purpose to get the word of God out to more people, being the most Christian based football team on the planet. And for them, as you can see, someone “had a special hand in it” for them on Sunday, and helped them win on their platform given their far noble purpose. We can’t forget that amongst all the $10 plus million facilities I have been in over the last 3 years dedicated to kid’s sports.
Grit was used by President Trump in the SOTU address. He has been mocked for bankruptcy, but did you know Presidents Lincoln, Grant, Jefferson, and McKinley, all went bankrupt at some point. So did Henry Ford, Walt Disney, and Milton Hershey. One thing I do believe is that they all had an extreme amount of GRIT. Grit to not only survive, but to succeed in life, and help others experience and enjoy great success. Grit predicts who gets to the finish line of hard goals in life. People with grit are finishers in life. In the short term we all love to win the game, but in the long term, It’s not about sports or any sort of ball, it’s about the bigger lessons and character traits such as Grit, for the real thing called life!