No, I don’t really. That would be kind of weird to keep a whole list of mistakes, right? RIGHT? I definitely don’t have a list like that.
So why am I even bringing up mistakes? Because mistakes are what keep us going.
You may call them failures, disappointments, setbacks, missed opportunities.
I call them character builders.
They make us wiser, and more determined to try better next time.
They give us GRIT. Perseverance. Courage. Resolve.
(Can you tell I looked up “grit” in a thesaurus?)
LET ME TELL YOU A STORY
It’s about to get a little personal. Are you ready?
My entire life has been building grit and resiliency.
I was raised in a home that taught me my job was to grow up, marry a nice man, and raise nice children. That’s it. Nothing else. College was a back up plan for that life.
Is there anything wrong with wanting to grow up, marry a nice man and raise nice children? Absolutely not.
In fact, I’ve already done that. Check.
But is it all I wanted? Absolutely not.
I figured out how to get into college, because I really didn’t know what to do. College seemed like the answer. A friend talked me into enrolling at my local community college.
Every step since then, I wasn’t supposed to do. But I wanted more.
It was community college, then the local four-year university.
My world unfolded.
I worked full-time throughout and struggled. Did I almost fail a class or two while trying to juggle it all? Yes.
But I made it through.
I graduated in 2009 at the height of the recession and moved to Chicago to find a job.
I found a job temping as a receptionist.
Is that what I hoped for myself? Not really.
But I was grateful to have a job while I saw friends flounder and people lose everything.
I worked my way up in a company and then pivoted and got into grad school (after being rejected 3 times).
I wanted to be an academic. I thought it would be this utopia of thought and well-intentioned and self-aware intellectuals.
It wasn’t quite what I thought, so again, I pivoted.
I wanted to study digital cultures, but instead, I learned how to participate in digital cultures through marketing.
I found my thing. The thing I enjoyed doing and earning money at the same time. Email marketing.
After having my baby, my husband and I moved back to Michigan to be near family.
I wasn’t finding the next job that felt right, so guess what I did?
I created my own.
It never occurred to me to be an entrepreneur. It’s not a goal I ever had. It’s not something I was encouraged to do.
I didn’t have role models to look up to for it.
But almost every step I’ve taken since graduating high school, I wasn’t meant to do. Why not this thing too?
I’ve failed while doing this entrepreneurial thing. But I’ve reset and come back for more.
What are my other options?
Along the way, I’ve met some incredible women who are hustling hard while trying to build a business for themselves. They’ve inspired me and made me want to keep going.
And I finally found what it is I’m looking for when working with someone. I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked with people that I’m glad to have in my rearview mirror.
The people I love to work with are those who have grit also. They’ve hustled hard – like me.
I’ve worked the job that had a shoestring budget, so I was in charge of everything.
These are people who jump in feet first and are willing to get their hands dirty on a new project. They know how to be resourceful and figure out to get something done with the tools they have available.
That’s been in me in a variety of jobs I’ve had. Was it hard? Yes. Did I love the challenge? Yes.
Now I get to work with people who have been there or are there. They’re incredibly smart, take on impossible tasks with minimal resources. And they do it well.
They make mistakes. Learn from those mistakes and try better next time.
They are flawed and bright and know when to not take themselves too seriously.
For me, grit has always been brushing myself off and trying harder next time.
It used to mean being tough and never asking for help.
Not showing my scars or vulnerabilities.
But letting that guard down and admitting when I need help has opened up incredible communities to me. I have met people I would have never met if I didn’t ask for help.
Today, I can flourish, because I have survived challenges that were difficult for me. I made it through by learning from my mistakes and asking for help.
That’s grit. Keep going and reaching out for community.