You’re Going to Finish
It was a hot, July day. The salty sweat was pouring down my mask into my eyes. The coach was yelling at me for what seemed like the hundredth time. As I crouched down to take the next pitch, a small voice in my head said, “You don’t need this.” It was over halfway through my 10th baseball season and in that moment I had decided to quit.
On the drive home, I turned to my dad and told him that was my last practice. He listened quietly to my story of frustration and anger. Out of nowhere, he stomped on the brakes as he pulled the truck to the side of the road.
Slamming the truck into park, he turned to me and said, “You’re going to finish. Period. There will be more things in your life than you’ll ever be able to count that will just suck. But if you choose to quit in the toughest moments you’ll never finish anything. You made a commitment to this team. You’ll follow through on that commitment. Got it.”
Grit is defined by Angela Duckworth as perseverance and passion for long-term goals. It is that virtue that drives us forward no matter what obstacles may come. It is the thing that separates those who start creating and those who finish.
My dad was teaching me grit that July day. His theatrical driving made it all the more memorable to me. But to be honest, I knew telling my dad that I was going to quit wasn’t going to go over well.
My dad’s goal was to see his family thrive and his work was a means to that goal. My dad worked for one company his whole life. He started as the janitor and learned on the job to take on many different roles. He worked through the union falling apart. He worked through injuries and illness. He worked through the company screwing him out of seniority. He worked through countless times that just sucked. My dad lived grit.
The new buzz word in business and education is grit. It is thrown around as the cure to what ails the Millennium generation. It is seen as the business world’s saving stick to beat over the heads of would be quitters. But it is much more important than the purpose that the business or education world wants to use it.
Grit is the key to family vitality. It is the character trait that tells those around you that no matter how hard it gets you’re going to finish. You’re going to be there for them through illness. You’re going to be there for them through fights, hurt and pain. Grit practiced by a family is what we point to as home.
[photo credit: Jon Eckert]