Since I have become a father I have been constantly thinking about what is the most important lesson I can teach my children. There are so many great qualities you want your kids to have. Love, Charity, initiative, integrity, positive attitude. All are qualities that we admire in our loved ones and heroes. All are qualities that I hope to develop and then pass on to those that I am responsible for. Through my pursuits outside, I have come to realize there is another quality that I really admire but gets mentioned much less in the descriptions of those we look up to. It has many names, perseverance, toughness, go-getter, badass. Really what it is though is just plain grit.
If you Google grit (let’s be honest no one looks it up in a Webster’s dictionary anymore), the first definition is “a) Small, loose particle of stone or sand.” You know the stuff that causes you to fall to your death when walking across a stone slab. Or the stuff you find in your teeth and the corners of your eyes after a long day in the desert. It’s the stuff my wife complains about finding in the sheets when I crawl into bed pre shower after a day in the mountains or at the beach. Grit in this sense, gets a bad reputation. But if you look at the other meaning of grit, it is one of the most valuable things in the world.
Grit is hard to describe because in every person it is a little bit different. To some it is determination, others it represents perseverance. And when it comes to our hobbies, people call it passion. Regardless of how you define it, it is a word that we use to describe someone we admire. I recently took Emmett on his first backpacking trip. It was my idea, I sold him on it and the night before I could see the uncertainty in his eyes. I knew very well that this trip could go either way. A complete success or we might never get out of eyesight of the truck. Emmett is almost 6 and has never hiked much over a mile before. I tried to lower my expectation and ensure that we just have fun no matter what.
On the last day of the trip as we packed up our backpacks and said goodbye to a new important place for us, I teared up thinking about how well he had done and what his little mind and body had accomplished. 3 days, 15 miles, 3200 vertical feet and countless moments of laughter and stoke.
Some of us get crazy ideas in our head and there is some strange force that helps us to make them a reality. Some call it determination, perseverance or passion. I call it grit. Now that my son is almost 6 I see his personality and passions developing each day. And no matter what drives him in his life, I hope that he has the grit to make his ideas accomplishments.