There is something really intriguing about meeting someone that holds the key to so many secrets. And while the juicy details of these stories are so incredibly personal and private and must stay locked in the sanctuary of my mind, there is one question that I get asked over and over again that I do answer.
What differentiates someone who is a financial failure and a financial success?
Now to make things fair, let us put these two people at the same starting point. Say they both came from similar backgrounds, with similar adversities and comparable accomplishments. They might be in different careers, have different group of friends and one might be an extrovert while the other is an introvert. Say they both come to me with similar personal struggles and one common goal: to be financially free. They ask me what they need to do to get to where they want to be and if I had to sum it all up in one word, what would it be?
The word is Grit. So what is grit?
Grit is officially defined like this: courage and resolve; strength of character. Google told me this.
But know that people who are able to move through their goals with grit are dangerous. Their ability to accomplish what they set their mind to is high and it is because they move systematically with speed, strength and power. They aren’t overturned by challenges because they understand that challenges are a part of life and failures are stepping stones to the development of endurance and character.
They aren’t distracted or sidetracked, and they are ready for temporary discomfort in order to achieve whatever they need to achieve. People with real grit cannot be underestimated and yet they often are.
As people we get so caught up in sizing people up. Maybe it is an insecurity thing or maybe we are looking to find our own place in the world but more often than not, smarts or wealth or experience don’t define a successful endgame. At least in my experience, and let me give you some examples of observations I have made over the course of my life.
I used to coach gymnastics when I was a teenager, and I was teaching a class of 9 year old girls. Most of their parents were friends and they all went to the same school.
Then there was this one chubby kid.
She was taller than the other girls. She did not have a nice suit and wore her brother’s shorts to class. They were a bit too small and gave her a wedgie, which she picked in between turns. She was sweet, willing to sweat and did not care if her hair got messy. She took feedback like a pro and came to terms wit the fact that she never fit in with the others quite quickly. In absorbing and accepting this, it allowed her to focus on herself, practising her skills in line while she waited for her turn as the others chatted away amongst themselves. She was Mexican and her mum once sent me some fresh tamales.
It was actually the first time I had had real Mexican home cooked food. I used to get those Cheesy Gordita Crunches from Taco Bell on Saturdays when my friends and I went to the mall and somehow, I was convinced that what they served at Taco Bell was similar to what came out of a real Mexican kitchen.
Anyways, my teenage ignorance aside, she passed her class with flying colours and I assure you, those delicious tamales had nothing to do with it.
She was at the top of her class despite her height, her weight, and her experience in the sport.
This 9-year-old kid made me realize that when you stop worrying about what everyone else thinks, you’re able to execute.
When I worked at a large IT distribution company in my mid-twenties there was this guy who did not go to college and yet, he was one of the best sales guys I had ever met. He was not good looking, did not have nice clothes but always dressed neat and did his best to pick up after the team if there were things that got left behind. He worked harder at supporting a team who thought they were better than him in just about every way.
In my practise, my clients with grit get through their divorces much more seamlessly than ones without. They think long term and have a growth focused mindset and are willing to persevere through adversity. And while things get heated and hurtful, their exhaustion is fuel to get to a state where they are ready to close the door and move onto a life they know they deserve.
It is not just the finish line that matters, it’s what’s beyond.
On a funny side note, I realized more than ever that we are all being judged by someone who is not even close to having their shit together.
I think my parents always thought that I would become a teacher because I coached gymnastics for 7 years.
And I did.
I teach people how to become more financially free but it isn’t about the right product as it is about developing the right character. The trick is to come up with the right strategy now for the person you are now while understanding where you want to be and having your financial strategies evolve as your character and mindsets grows.
It sounds messed up and yet, it is totally possible.
And while so many people are always looking for the best brand these days, it is important to note that if your process sucks, you’re in for a rude awakening. In that Discovery Meeting where I first meet my clients and go over their background and information, I am always left asking myself if their mindset matched their goals.
I don’t care about potential and we could talk about potential all day. They could have come from wealthy families or had the best education. They could have incredible careers, volunteered for good causes, etc. This was about me looking at the way they articulated their dreams while challenging them and internally questioning their ability to persevere and stay passionate.
They want to. But will they?
I am not a sports fan, but I’d like to use a sports analogy to make my case.
Let us take running for example. Most of my potential clients want to sprint to their goals. The unrealistic ones want me to achieve it for them. You simply can’t be a sprint runner when it comes to something like this, and you need to train yourself to be able to run that marathon.
However, have you ever looked at a sprint runner? Sprint runners are super sexy. They’re ripped and have incredible bodies and check most if not all of the socially acceptable boxes of what a “real athlete” looks like.
Marathon runners on the other hand look like they need a sandwich. They are frail looking and sometimes, they might even look unhealthy. It just goes to show that what meets the eye is not always what is.
Now let’s take this a step further. So the next question is: How does one develop grit?
I have no idea. I really really do not.
And what I know and have observed is that grit isn’t an all-round skillset. And what I mean by that is that while you may be gritty in a certain area of your life, you may be totally soft in others.
And I’ve tried to research this, but the truth is that grit is also so incredibly hard to measure.
In my practise, I aim to motivate. But understanding where someone is coming from, where and why they want to go where they want to go is paramount.
And while I live in a giant oxymoron because I always preach that I should not have to motivate a person to achieve something they are incredibly passionate about; I find myself doing it anyway. So, I load on that motivation just like I would cilantro on a chicken curry. You can never have too goddamn much!
But let us talk about self-motivation for a second and I want to leave you with some burning questions.
What if you suck?
What if you took a moment to stop beating on your big ol’ monkey chest for a second, putting your ego aside to consider your true level of suck.
What if you suck so bad and you’re so tired of sucking that you see no alternative but moving forward?
What is rock bottom for you and how many times can you hit it to be able to do better for yourself?
As I ask you this question, I think about a hamster named Murder that one of my girlfriends used to have when we were both in Grade 8. That little guy spun on his wheel all day long.
I also think about my mum, having the same 5 arguments with my father for 33 years until she tossed in the towel, shoved whatever crap she could carry into garbage bags which she shoved into her car and made the 20-minute drive to my place. She was exhausted, filled with regret and could not have felt like a bigger failure.
And how many times have you beaten yourself down for hitting that rock bottom, so much so that you’re willing to get your life to a state where you are creating stability and abstaining from people, behaviours and mindsets that cause you to nose dive?
Do you need to come from ruin to rise?
There’s a quote that you probably might have heard from this postapocalyptic novel written by G. Michael Hopf which says, “Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.”
My husband first brought this quote to my attention and I forgot the context to which he brought it up but it stuck with me and I really resonated with what this quote had to say.
Here is the kicker. What if someone had grit but had it all wrong? Let us call it grit in the wrong direction and explore what something like that looks like.
And where we start with, is with a persons’ “why”.
What is a person’s reasoning for why they do what they do? And if as I ask this question, you think about people in your life, you need to note that I am not referring to your assumptions of their reasoning.
What is theirs?
Are they doing it for themselves, their family, or friends and why? What are they to gain from the success they claim to want and who in turn benefits from their goal?
Maybe you have met the same amount of people as I have that created goals more to serve obligations however I guarantee you that you have not fought them on the ridiculousness of some of these goals as I have.
And they hate me for it and I’m perfectly okay with that.
Now let’s take my father as an example.
He is ambitious, motivated, smart, systematic and completely lost. He went to school and got a fantastic job. He was a soccer player however his father wanted him to get into engineering. Check.
He provided for his parents and sisters and even put one or two of them through school. Check. Check.
My father got married. It was arranged to my mother, a nice Catholic girl from a good family. Check.
He had a child. Me. I was enough. If he didn’t have a child, the family would have questioned my parents’ fertility. Check.
He took care of his mother after his father died being the only son. Check.
He put a roof over our heads and food on the table. Check Check.
The bills were paid. Check. Check. Check.
So why is he probably one of the unhappiest people I know? The rosy picture on the outside was quite thorny on the inside. He struggled with relationships, his health, both physical and mental and while he was not an alcoholic, he drank more than most which prompted us to often raise an eyebrow.
And what if we could create a time machine where we could take him back 45 years and allowed him to make a choice? A choice that would not be judged and be entirely respected and supported.
Even today, I still wonder what he would choose.
Have you met people that are so trapped making choices based on obligation, rather than heart? So much so that they are convinced that a choice of obligation is what they truly desire?
Perhaps they do not feel like they have options or the strength to carve a path of their own.
Can preserving your image to your family or society be a real goal and is having the grit to carve out a path that isn’t your own worth the heartache?
In these situations, grit isn’t always a good thing.
But it is important to note that having an incredibly powerful skill set can turn horribly wrong given the wrong environment.
Just think about that time when Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility” and that time he turned from happy red Spiderman to goth freak Spiderman.
I guess you really need to consider the quality of someone’s intention versus believing in their sincerity alone. They might mean it, but should they?
And is it true, to who they are as people?
So, the magic question for you today is: Do you have grit and if so, what kind?
I’ll leave you with that until next week! Have a fantastic week everyone! Make good choices and know that I’m always rooting for your success!