Recently I had the opportunity to watch a couple of good friends run the Arizona Ironman race in Phoenix. It was amazing to watch 3000 people start a race that included a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and then run 26 miles. When the race began all of the participants were excited, highly motivated, and eager to begin what they all knew would be a pretty brutal day, physically and mentally.
As the race wore it, it became evident that some of the competitors were having a difficult time. It was not that they were necessarily less physically prepared as the other competitors, it was that they were not as mentally prepared. As the day worn on and the afternoon turned into late evening, I watched the competitors cross the finish line. Some waved their hands triumphantly, some could barely shuffle across the line, their faces contorted with pain and agony.
Many crossing the line were not what you imagine as elite triathletes. Some were old and hobbled, some had artificial limbs, many were physically unimpressive, and many looked like they should be watching the race not competing in it. As I watched the competitors finish, I asked myself what distinguished those who started the race from those who were finishing the race some 16 hours later. I determined that key factor was not their running, biking or swimming ability – But rather it was simple “grit”.
Grit is often defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals. But when I watched the competitors cross the finish line, I saw that it was more than that. The “gritty” individual approaches all challenges in life like an Ironman Race; their advantage is not necessarily physical skill, rather it is stamina…stamina not to quit. When hardship or difficulty causes others to cut their losses and quit, the “gritty” individual stays the course. The “gritty” individual knows that in the end, Passion and Perseverance will trump talent!
So are you are “gritty” individual? Do you have the stamina to stay on course when the storms come and trials hit? Are you just a starter…or are you a “gritty” finisher?