The Column

The Grittiest of the Species (Us) and Years (2020)

Since we’re all reviewing a grotesque 2020, I’m adding my 2 cents. For the second year in a row, I’ve logged how many and which books I’ve read. On review, 2020 began with Grit.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance claims the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent, but a passionate persistence. Author Angela Duckworth is a university professor, Ted Talk speaker and MacArthur Fellow. I listened to her book at the gym, throwing rushed dinners together, walking to work. A bunch of things we used to do a lifetime ago. And I carried the book’s message with me in a January of enthusiasm that in 2020 I’d rise victorious.

Her argument was a revelation of who would smash grueling military school and why the shining prodigals didn’t always. In a nutshell, daily efforts would lead to long-term success in a chosen field, AKA symbolising the grittiest among us.

It makes sense. If you make a pancake 1000 times, I’d expect the 1000th to outshine the 1st. But there was another nugget of wisdom that deserves appraisal. A slice of advice I couldn’t anticipate would ring so true in 2020.

Duckworth says that 2-3 hours of deliberate work/ study on your goal daily was the highest formula for success. Then she wrote that you should be taking naps you’re working that hard. Naps earmark your levels of grit.

2020 the year of Pain and Grit

2020 was at once Umbridge from Harry Potter’s torture quill, but also a piece of grit at the bottom of your laced up boot.

Umbridge’s quill featured in Harry Potter 5, The Order of the Phoenix. To the dismay of whoever uses the quill, in this case Mr Potter, the ink will be drawn from the blood of the back of the writer’s hand. 2020: a constant poking of painful hurdles that made us feel ever more delicate each time Covid-19 reopened painful scar tissue. Like using an Umbridge torture quill for a year.

The grit is that stone buried in your shoe. Too little to bother unraveling the shoe, but a annoyance that constantly digs painful dents into your soles. That piece of grit made us grow calluses to dim our pain.

Both quill and grit made us who we are in 2021.

For me, 2020 was a year of naps. It was curling up on the sofa in the afternoon, where a home office meant it wasn’t taboo (ps I was 50% furloughed). If your grit looks a little like mine, naps in the afternoon, you’re doing enough. If your torture quill is still etched painfully on your life, you’re going to heal. 

I’ll close this week with a quote to usher in 2021, with a nod to the grit that got us through 2020.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow,” Mary Ann Radmacher.

If I had been the editor of Grit, I would have splashed this quote in font size 1 million on page 1 and called it a day.

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