A WORD THAT DEFINES SUCCESS
I first heard the word on a TV program called TED. Not sure what the acronym stands for, but that night the topic was Education. Each speaker was given 7 minutes, but the one that impressed me most was a teacher-turned-psychologist. She and a few others studied schools and teachers everywhere, trying to discover the one quality in students that made them succeed. They watched, they observed, they photographed.
And who did best?
She said it wasn’t the kids whose IQs were highest. It wasn’t the kids who had the greatest social skills. Or the ones who were the best looking. It was the kids with GRIT. She said it was the kids who persevered, who went for the marathon, not the sprint. The kids who just kept at it, who wouldn’t quit, who persisted no matter what the odds against them. The kids who were willing to take an hour and a half bus ride to get to a good school.
She kept asking, How do we give our kids this quality? How do we install GRIT?
And I was thinking, in a way, about me, because I’m not the smartest writer out there, nor the most creative. And maybe I don’t write the best books, either. But I don’t quit. I don’t give up. Those 14 years I was trying to get HIGHER THAN EAGLES published, I just kept re-writing. I told myself constantly, If I make this good enough, someone will HAVE to buy it. I stopped counting the rejections for that now-successful book—there were just too many.
So this is what I’m going to tell my writing students next class. If you want to succeed in this writing game you have to push on. You don’t need to be the smartest or the wittiest or the most creative—you just have to be the most determined. You must absolutely decide that you’ll make it. And then march ahead relentlessly--re-write your work until it sparkles, look behind walls to find publishers, decide you will never give up. In your head the operative word should never be “If.” Only “when.” Eventually you’ll find that you had what it took. All along you had GRIT.
“Higher Than Eagles” available, autographed, at Maralys.com
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