I have just finished two books that reflect some lessons that I learned on my Weight loss journey. Both are about that sometimes-elusive quality called Grit (not Grits which would be, especially the buttered type, counter to Weight loss).
The first book tied to Grit is obvious. It is called Grit by Angela Duckworth. It is a study on what constitutes Grit and why Grit is so important to success of all type. Grit in her definition is the combination of passion, perseverance and persistence (the three P’s). Her book opens with why one third of the cadets at West Point even after passing the rigorous entrance exams, drop out after the first 6 weeks period known as Beast Barracks. There departure was not related to their ability as demonstrated by their recruiting scores, academic prowess or military bearing. Indeed, some that scored the highest in the entrance criteria were the first to fall out when the going got tough.
What Professor Duckworth determined that the quality of Grit had the closest correlation of any factor in determining who would make it through those first few brutal weeks. Those with the passion for an Academy diploma, combined with the ability to bounce back after failure were the ones that made it. Some of the people that scored high on entry had other options so simply did not have the passion. Others who had the passion, did not have the faith – the crux of persistence and perseverance – to make it through the four years. The rest of the book goes through a scientific and psychological study of what constitutes Grit and why it is so important to success of all kinds.
The second book is a case study on Grit. It is Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born to Run. The Boss was not blessed with a great singing voice, natural guitar playing ability, or writing skills. What he was born with was an overwhelming passion for playing Rock and Roll after falling in love with the playing of Elvis, the Beatles and other early pioneers. He simply loves what he does with a passion that is consuming and will not be distracted from writing music from his soul.
He also has perseverance. He played in 3 bands from 16 to 25 before he made it big with the Born to Run album. He honed his sound playing both in NJ, Virginia and California. You can hear his progression of music when hearing the rudimentary sounds of the Castilles, the heavier rock of Steel Mill, the Dylanesque ramblings of the Bruce Springsteen Band until if finally congealed into Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. He was driven to pursue the Music he loved and would not get sidetracked by the drugs, loneliness or carousing that has claimed so many talented stars before they fully reached their potential. I commend the book Born to Run to everyone and think it is one of the five best books I have ever read.
So, what does this have to do with Weight Loss. Grit is the only way I know to lose weight and more importantly to keep it off. When I began my weight loss mission at 358 pounds, I had an overall passion to become the image of an inspiring leader that I had seen in so many of my West Point classmates that had made it to General and the higher ranks. Even though I had been out of the military for a good 25 years, I built in my mind an image of a fit, 50+ leader that others would be inspired by and follow whether on the battlefield or in my case, the next IT project. Next, I had to have perseverance and persistence. It was a long way from the days when I could put on my ruck and run 13 miles as I did back in the day. But I vowed that despite the obstacles and setbacks, I would pick myself back up and continue. At one point, I was stuck at the same weight or slightly higher for over a month. But I kept at it and tried different things until I hit on the correct tweak that would bring my passion to realization. Champs like Us Maybe we were Born to Run! So keep at it and show some Grit!