Posts Tagged ‘grit’

The thrill of victory…

 “The thrill of victory—and the agony of defeat.”

Isn’t that the truth? When we achieve something we have been striving for, oh, the thrill! And when we miss – it truly can be agonizing. When I was learning to water ski as a teenager at summer camp, I had weakling arms and hard a hard time holding onto the rope as the boat took off. I’d never been behind a ski boat before (remember I grew up in a gymnasium). I went down, time, and time again. It was discouraging, especially when other kids around me were able to get up and stay up…not to mention the boat was being driven by the ‘cool’ kids from southern California with their bleach-blonde hair and strong, tan physiques. Once the ski rope handle sprang back and smashed my fingernail, which later turned a lovely dark purple. I fell forward, I fell backwards, I caught an edge and flipped over completely, water up my nose and feeling like a drowned rat. Needless to say things weren’t going well. But I was determined to figure this out! After four classes chock-full of failed attempts, my feeble arms were finally able to hang on and found myself up on top of the water, gliding along, water spraying off the sides of my skis. The cool instructors in the boat cheered and I was grinning ear to ear.  Oh, the thrill of victory!

Now transition from sports to the corporate world. Think back on the projects that you have successfully completed – what a thrill it is to accomplish something you’ve worked so hard on for weeks! But along with victories come discouraging moments when our efforts do not pan out–and the frustration that accompanies our defeats can be agonizing.

Possessing a strong achievement drive is a competency of emotional intelligence and is a quality that is well worth developing. People with the competency tend to have a strong set of personal and professional standards and are always striving to improve. They seem to have an expectation of excellence in everything they do and are committed to continual learning. They are not quick to quit. They are able to try, try, and try again until they reach their objectives. Do you know anyone like this?

Not all of us can boast on this as a strong point. I may have been determined to water ski that summer, but there have been many projects I have started and haven’t finished, like writing that book, or learning that new skill, or continuing to move toward a goal at work when I received a lot of push back. Achievement drive is a quality I without doubt need (and want) to cultivate and grow.

The good thing about emotional intelligence is that it can be learned and developed, with the help of good self-assessment and solid coaching, and there are some developmental tips we can begin working on to start the growth process. Obviously we need to start by setting a goal. Use the “SMART” acronym can help you clearly define your goal and make it attainable.  Ask yourself, is my goal, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed? (Learn more about SMART goals here:

But establishing a goal is often not the hard part – it’s the getting there that presents the challenge. Here are some steps to take to move toward accomplishment:

  • Determine the whys behind your desire to achieve the goal. What emotional pulls are driving your desire for success? Write these down. Knowing what these are can be a huge motivator to spur you forward.
  • Jot down the risks you face in working toward the goal and compare those with the joys of achieving the goal. Which carry more weight for you, and why?
  • Each day, attempt to do at least one thing that moves you toward your goal, even if it is a very small step. It may be as simple as researching a website, or picking up your phone to make a call to get information. Every move toward that goal is a piece of the success.
  • Track your accomplishments. Keep a daily log or journal to mark achievements, no matter how small they may seem.

I love what Harvey Mackay, columnist and author, says about goals:

“A dream is just a dream.  A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.”

As a side note — sometimes, the journey toward achievement can take you down a few paths that may seem like rabbit trails. And they well may be. Think of how often you get online to ‘check’ something and end up watching you tube videos (of the Wide World of Sports from 1978!)  While you do not want to be deterred from your goal, don’t be afraid to explore these trails, always keeping the endgame in mind. Sometimes the discoveries along the way will open new doors and give you fresh ideas as to how to enhance the excellence of your goal. The important thing to do is to keep moving.  As Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his “I Have a Dream” speech, “And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”

We’ve all heard how many times Edison failed before he got the light bulb to work.  But I like how he framed the process: “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Don’t get discouraged when you hit roadblocks. You will hit them and they will slow you down. But there are always ways to get around them and if you stick with it, you will find them, so you may keep heading down the road to the thrill of victory.

Initiative & Bias for Action

soccerArticle Contributed by Amy Sargent

Years back I was at lunch with a woman who confided that she was in a good deal of debt. As we talked, I could tell that the debt was causing her a substantial amount of consternation, like a burdensome weight hanging heavily around her neck. After a long conversation, I asked her about her plans to get rid of it. Her response? “I’m hoping for a windfall”.

There seem to be two prevailing beliefs on how to get the things we want in life:  Some people are banking on their windfalls – to win the lottery, to receive that inheritance from the unknown relative, or just waiting for the right doors to open. Then there are others who not only are out there knocking on the doors they want to open but can often be found with a helmet on beating them down. When you want something, which way do you tend to lean?

I have to admit at times I’ve camped out in the first scenario. But I have a good excuse (don’t we always?). One Christmas about 7 years ago I received a phone call from a dear friend I hadn’t spoken with for years. She said they wanted to buy me a new car. She said to go pick out what I wanted then let them know how much it was and they’ll take of the rest. Not kidding. For a good time after that, it was hard to not to be on the lookout for more of these unexpected windfalls.

But reality is, phone calls like that don’t happen every day. And if there is something out there that we want, it usually falls upon us to take some initiative to make it happen. I like what George Bernard Shaw said:

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are.  I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

By now you’ve probably heard of the story of the boys from Koh Panyee, a floating village in the south of Thailand, who in 1986 wanted to become the world soccer champions. Problem is, they had no soccer field on which to practice, because of the limited space in their village that consisted of makeshift docks surrounded by water. A soccer field when there was no pavement or grass in sight? Seems impossible, right? But that did not stop the boys. They decided to build their own field out of every scrap piece of wood they could find. If you haven’t seen the short video – click here for one of the more inspirational stories you will ever witness:

How is your initiative and bias for action? Are you proactive and persistent at working toward your goals, or do you let procrastination and other hurdles keep you from acting on opportunities? Which of these characteristics best describe your methodology to achieving what you want? You:

  • are ready to seize opportunities and jump on them when they arise
  • have a hard time quitting something you’ve started
  • are happy to pick up new responsibilities that lie outside of your normal scope of work
  • not only reach your initial goals but go above and beyond them
  • refuse to procrastinate when you have deadlines to meet
  • plan ahead
  • are not overly cautious or unwilling to take risks
  • are able to bend the rules if necessary to get the job done
  • take action before outside circumstances force you to
  • are able to mobilize others with your enterprising efforts
  • want more out of life than your basic needs being met
  • consistently strive to do more and be more

Developing emotional intelligent traits of initiative and bias for action can be accomplished, one small step at a time, with the help of a coach, a healthy dose of self-awareness, and some good old fashioned hard work. But like the soccer-playing boys of Koh Panyee, the effort it takes is paled next to the reward of attaining your sought-after goals.

The Greatest Glory


The Resilient Leader: Instilling Grit is an online, interactive, 6-week course designed to teach you not only how to become more resilient but how to coach others to bounce back after setbacks. You’ll earn 6 recertification credits from the ICF, SHRM, or HRCI upon completion.

Got Grit?

resiliency23The Resilient Leader: Instilling Grit is an interactive, 6-week webinar designed to teach you not only how to become more resilient but how to coach others to bounce back after setbacks. You’ll earn 6 recertification credits from the ICF, SHRM, or HRCI upon completion. Class starts May 10th!

learn more rectangle

When A Friendship Ends

friendship brokenArticle Contributed by Amy Sargent

Have you ever had a friend tell you they can’t be your friend anymore?

Business partnerships, romantic relationships, and casual acquaintances come and go, and cause upset when they end, but we seem to attach a little more expectations of longevity to the relationships we call friendship. A friend is a person we know in depth, with whom we hold a special bond of mutual affection, (usually exclusive of sexual or family relations). They’re our companion. Our confidant. One we can trust, rely upon, who will stand by us no matter what. But there are times when a friendship, for various reasons, can’t withstand the sands of time. And it hurts.

When friendships come to a close, whether temporarily due to extenuating circumstances or permanently because of unhealthy habits, the pain you feel can trigger a number of reactions:

  • Sadness.   You’ve suddenly lost someone dear to you. This can cause intense sorrowful feelings of emptiness.
  • Revenge.  I know, it’s immature, and equally hurtful, but we’ve all been there.  She has the gall to hurt me?  I’ll just send a snippy little text back…
  • Anger.  You invested a lot of your time, energy and heart into this friend.  And they think they can just walk away?  Now I’m mad…
  • Global negativity. It’s that feeling that this one event is indicative of your overall well-being and breeds thoughts of “here we go again” and  “see, nothing ever works out for me”.
  • Knee-jerk desperation. You’re immediately hit with a vast, empty hole that the friend once filled, and it does not feel good.  Fine, I’ll just replace them with someone new…”Next?!”

Which do you tend to choose?

While each of these emotions are valid, wallowing in any one too long will only retard your healing. And a word of warning: take care to be mindful of your actions while feeling these powerful emotions. Before you act — stop and ask, “Will this help or hurt the situation in the long run?” While full of passion, actions based on emotion alone, without the wisdom of reason, can cause even more damage to both parties.

Resiliency, or grit, is that ability to bounce back after setbacks. Some of us have it, and some of us don’t, especially when we’re faced with something tough, like the loss of a friend, or other setbacks and failures. But it is a competency of emotional intelligence that can be learned and developed. Here are some quick tips that may be of help when faced with a painful loss:

  1. Take care of yourself. We can’t be resilient when we’re lacking sleep, are malnourished, not exercising, or overly-stressed.
  2. Challenge negative ‘self-talk’. Ask yourself, “Is there any evidence to back up this self-doubt I’m feeling?” Probably not.
  3. See disappointments as temporary, short-term and isolated. What just happened is specific to this particular circumstance, and most likely not applicable to your life as a whole.
  4. Seek support from those in your life who care about you. Lean into your other friends and family and don’t try to go it alone.
  5. Do something that brings you rest and renewal. Can you get away for a few days to your favorite place? Go dancing? Take a long nap? Think about what brings you joy, and treat yourself to that luxury if possible.
  6. Learn from others. It always helps to see what others are going through, and discover how they worked through their own disappointments. Outward thinking puts the situation into perspective and gets our mind off ourselves.

“Your choice:  victim or victor.”  — Author unknown

We all know someone who is experiencing pain from loss, whether it be a friendship, death of a loved one, loss of a job, or just general disappointment with life. If you’d like to learn more about resiliency, both how to develop more of it and instill it in others, consider an online class designed for leaders, coaches, and individuals. Click here for more details:  How to Develop Resiliency & Instill Grit

Coming Soon…


The Resilient Leader: Instilling Grit

is a 6-week webinar designed to teach you how to coach others to bounce back after setbacks.


Coming soon…


The Resilient Leader: Instilling Grit

The Resilient Leader: Instilling Grit is a 6-week webinar designed to teach you how to coach others to bounce back after setbacks.

learn more rectangle | | 303-325-5176

Peaks and Valleys, Resilience and Adversity

Article Contributed by Guest Author Christene Cronin, CC

Managing the peaks and valleys in our lives can be an ongoing challenge. And as muresilience flowerch as we want to be at our best (peak) we know that adversity (valley) will rear its ugly head sooner or later, so the question is: How long do you find yourself in a valley, and what is your level of resilience while you are in it?

The time that you allow yourself to reside in the “valley” can be hurting you and your business. When you are not feeling “up” or good about life, it does affect your interactions with others from the tone in your voice to the expression on your face and the tension in your body. These negative emotions can cause loss in productivity, missed opportunities, and emotional turmoil (decrease in self-confidence, self-doubt or fear).

Unknown to some is the knowledge that we all have the ability to manage and therefore change our emotions for the better, in the moment, at any time. Hence – social and emotional intelligence, or resilience.

Here are three things you can do to get yourself out of that valley faster:

  1. Define which emotions you are feeling, and then question the validity of those emotions. Are your emotions a reality or a perception? (Perceptions can be deceiving)
  1. Reflect on your beliefs about the situation. Are they your own beliefs or are you acting on the belief of others? What fact(s) are you basing your beliefs upon?
  1. Take effective action now! Do not allow yourself to suffer any longer. Take charge of your emotions, change your thoughts, and increase your resilience so you can escape from that valley immediately!

Even the most successful people experience adversity in their lives.  The difference is their level of resilience.

Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it, for that determines our success or failure.”    ~ Norman Vincent Peale  1898-1993, Minister and Author


Note from the ISEI: We have a 6-week online course entitled The Resilient Leader:  Instilling Grit beginning October 20th.  We’d love for you to join us and learn how to instill grit into your clients to help them navigate the struggles of life with a positive outlook and resiliency.  Click here for more details:


The Neuroscience of Resilience

Article Contributed by Guest Author Sandra E. Clifton, M.Ed., PCC, CEP, ET/P

This past summer, in order to earn “core competency” hours to renew my ICF-credential as a Professionally Certified Coach (PCC), I attended a seminar at the Cape Cod Institute called “Bouncing Back:  Rewiring the Brain for Resilience and Well-being,” taught by Linda Graham, MFT.  Linda has been a marriage and family therapist for 25 years, and specializes in attachment, trauma, and mindfulness.  This five-day seminar was full of rich research that Linda embedded with personal anecdotes and practical exercises for professionals in the field of mental health, from states as far away as Texas.

One of the themes running throughout the course was the idea that, “You can’t stop the waves—but you can learn to surf,” a quote from Jon Kabat-Zinn and an apt visual for our location by the sea.  Participants in this workshop learned that resilience requires embracing upheaval as a catalyst for growth and that we can learn new ways to ‘ride the wave of change’ for optimal personal and professional progress.  Linda explained that the brain learns best “little and often”—in baby steps.  For example, research indicates that just five minutes of meditation a day is more effective that an hour once a week.

Each section of this course was framed with the “Six C’s of Coping”:  Calm, Compassion, Clarity, Connections, Competence, and Courage—with the idea that flexibility and neuroplasticity invigorate these coping skills.  In fact, the brain can actually encode new wiring and neural pathways to trump negative experiences with positive ones, when we work with a practiced therapist to help rewire trauma with new and positive experiences.  The goal of our work with clients is always integration, and Linda highlighted that, through positive attunement with our clients, a single dose of the “happy chemical,” oxytocin, can improve the entire chemistry of the brain.

If you are interested in learning more about resilience, you can find Linda Graham at  As well, the Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence has an upcoming 6-week online course entitled The Resilient Leader:  Instilling Grit beginning October 20th.  Click here for more details:


Sandra E. Clifton, M.Ed., PCC, CEP, ET/P