Reading The War of Art the other night… page 39:
The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident.
The real one is scared to death.
I am scared to death. Maybe that means I’m a real innovator. I’m not sure.
We are poised on the brink of a huge moment in history here in this little schoolhouse on the prairie. No two ways about it. Crafting a new class almost entirely from scratch, there are 210 students waiting to be WOW-ed and engaged. If you know anything about middle-schoolers, then you understand they can be a tough crowd to impress.
When the project was first presented to me several months ago, my initial thought was: Absolutely!
Questions and conversations / brainstorming and brain-exploding / crazy hare-brained schemes and a commitment: I got this. Yes I will do it.
Get into the thick of it all: Oh man! This is way harder than I ever expected. What on earth was I thinking?
This has turned out to be the most challenging project I have ever attempted. Hands down. Did not see this one coming. Do not see how it is going to end. More than once I have wanted to bag it.
I am scared to death. This might not work.
But there’s a balance between the interior and the exterior. Confidence on the outside so the people who see will also believe in the mission of what we are trying to accomplish. Fear on the inside to stay humble and hungry. Much good is yet to come.
There can be a healthy fear and doubt and sense of disillusionment. Healthy because it keeps you in the game. A person with grit will sit back to assess the playing field. Sometimes allowing the frustration / exasperation / despair to wash over her and prompt words or even tears that are disconcerting to others. But it is a very necessary suffering.
Essential because it re-energizes the spirit. For the inner will to remain motivated to pursue the most difficult goals, it must be tested again and again. So you can decide if it is a goal worthy of your time, energy and dedication. After a taste of success, fear and doubt and disillusionment return to help you conquer the next wall. Just because there’s a wall doesn’t mean there is nothing on the other side.
Only certain people are allowed to see or hear the fear / doubt / disillusionment. It is a sacred trust when you are invited to share. The task is simply to hold it while the doubter wrestles the demons of the Resistance to regain solid footing.
Without the next wall and a healthy dose of doubt, even the grittiest person won’t move. There is no need. There is no challenge. There is no sense of mission or purpose. There is no reason to risk ridicule / criticism / derision that comes when you try to change the world.
Grit alone is not enough. Grit must be woven with curiosity, optimism and mastery.
Grit: Self-discipline wedded to pursuit of a goal.
Curiosity: Driving inner force that seeks answers to questions.
Optimism: Expecting all good things.
Mastery: Achieving skill and expertise.
Grit alone is not enough to move past the fear / doubt / disillusionment.
Grit needs the driving hope that new achievement is possible.