Over the weekend I was invited to Aiken, South Carolina to ride a large Shire Horse that was for sale. During the trek to Aiken, I reminded myself that I was full of grit and no matter what this horse was like, I would do my very best to ride her well and not disappoint or embarrass my trainer. GRIT- the ever present buzz word of the year, the combination of good work ethic and a never-say-die attitude. Yup, I have grit. I use grit every day to support my customers. I use grit to overcome challenges, find and build relationships with the top talent in the IT industry, and bounce back when things go awry. I use grit to solve technical problems with people even when life gets in the way of the people delivery. Yup, I had this, no matter how large this horse was. No biggie.
I forgot about a key trait, though. Without it, no matter how much grit you have, you end up paralyzed with fear and unable to move. COURAGE. Courage is defined as “ the ability to do something that frightens one.” I paused and thought long and hard if I had courage. Was I courageous? Well, looking back on 2017, I had my fair share of hits and misses. I had summoned the courage to support my mom through stage 4 bone cancer and the courage to help her die with dignity. I had found the courage to tell my family to not treat anything and focus on controlling her pain, as I knew remission was out of the question and did not wish to prolong her suffering. There were also moments when I lacked courage, though. Times I did not stand up for myself; times I did not encourage others to starve out fear and take a chance; and times I decided I would never, ever get on a particular horse and go over even the smallest jumps.
Within a couple of hours, there I was, Aiken, South Carolina, ground zero in the South for beautiful horses of all disciplines, looking up at a 1700 pound 17hh Shire Draft named Sassy. Did I have the courage (and a ladder) to climb this beastie and sit on her back? Absolutely, and she was lovely. At least, she was until we picked up the trot, and she decided she wanted to run! I hung on and managed to whoa her back to a nice relaxing trot and then to a walk. Nervous? Yes! Did I have the grit to keep going? Yes. I rode her for another hour and had a wonderful time.
The good news is that grit and courage can be learned and massaged into daily action. Courage got me onto Sassy, and grit kept me on her back even when she tried to get away from me. My point is simple: Grit is nothing without the courage to take action.