September 2022

September 2022

Q4 is upon us: we have just more than 90 days left in 2022. How will you measure the first three quarters? How will you finish the year? Have you stayed aligned with your purpose and mission?

I’m reading this week about Frances Hesselbein, a truly extraordinary leader known for her turn around of the Girl Scouts, and later the leader of the Peter Drucker non-profit institute. She is nearly 107 years old today. I was not a Girl Scout, but spent a year or two in Brownies (I was unable to find a photo in uniform, but the photo below is in the same time frame); it’s recognized as an exceptional program still today; between 50 and 75% of women representatives and senators respectively, were girls scouts, as were 5 of 9 women governors (as of 2021) and every woman Secretary of State.

Hesselbein took over the Girl Scouts after an 8 year run as a scout leader (despite having no daughters herself), and then being asked to run the Western Pennsylvania Girls Scouts. Her leadership was noticed immediately, and she was asked to interview to run the national organization at a time it was sinking into insignificance.


As a long time admirer of Peter Drucker, Hesselbein directed her actions based on five key questions:

  1. What is Your Mission?

  2. Who are Your Customers?

  3. What do Your Customer's Value?

  4. What Results are You Getting?

  5. What is Your Plan?

She also was an advocate for the short and pithy mission statement (Drucker’s influence)- no more than eight words. For the Girl Scouts, that meant “To help each girl reach her own highest potential.” (nine words, but who’s counting?)

Hesselbein tripled minority membership, instituted the Daisy Scouts, and revitalized the Girl Scouts. She was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton for her work, and spoke frequently about leadership at the United States Military Academy at West Point. General Lloyd Austin III, the first African American commander of the US Central Command, noted that “Frances Hesselbein is one of the most visionary leaders I have met during my military career—on or off the battlefield.” later she would run Peter Drucker’s non-profit leadership institute as well. (She is still head of Leader to Leader, the rebrand of that institute. I’m proud to have published an article with her as The Grit Factor came out!)

Reading about and researching Hesselbein’s leadership principles and effectiveness made me reflect on the work of the Grit Institute. I see daily how critical the work is, the desperate need for information and inspiration to do work in a life that matters, the aching desire to truly make a difference and connect to personal (and broader) purpose at a time when so much is unclear, unknown and discouraging. This is the work of The Grit Factor and the associated six-week course, Going for Grit, as well as the deeper purpose work in the six-week course Paths 2 Purpose. I support work that brings women into stronger leadership positions and helps them thrive, and helps veteran transitions for both the veterans and their employers, both of which continue to be challenged by the encumbrances of the system.


But what is the MISSION of The Grit Institute? What if I had to keep myself to eight words? As a writer and a speaker, I can go on forever, but that’s not what mission statements are about.

I went back and forth with this exercise— and I’m frustrated by the reality that grit, resilience, even courage, as Susan Sonntag noted to much criticism after 9-11, are morally neutral. How could a mission stated briefly connect with doing good, facing the strong winds of the world today and doing what is necessary to lead through polarization, inertia, increasing violence and malevolence, outdated policies on technology and climate, and more. I know there will be those who define individual words differently, but I’m happy with this, considering what I hear from you and from other clients, knowing the needs you have, and encompassing speaking, training, educating, and writing, whether it’s creative or leadership work, in pursuit of a more peaceful and equitable world.

And so here it is:

“Building courageous leaders for a better world.”

Seven words— exceeding the standard. I hope Mrs. Hesselbein would approve.



For you who are receiving this email, who are along on the journey of leadership, grit, resilience and purpose, who are truly facing the wind in your own lives and work, what will you do with your last 90 days? Leave a comment and let me know!

Will you be a part of this mission by spreading the word of how others can benefit? Here are a few easy things you can do within a minute (these really help!):

  1. Subscribe to The Grit Institute on Youtube, and interact with and share the content you benefit from the most.

  2. Follow on Instagram, and let me know what you think and how these ideas connect to your life and work.

  3. Connect or follow on LinkedIn, and add your voice to the conversation!

  4. Forward this email to someone who should be a part of this journey.

  5. Order copies of The Grit Factor for the leaders you know and love.

  6. Subscribe to the podcast! The Grit Factor podcast is rebranding as Facing the Wind, and new episodes release weekly starting at the beginning of October.

And a few things you can do with a bit more time:

  1. Help me better understand your needs HERE.

  2. Recommend me as a keynote speaker for your organization’s company meeting, sales meeting, Veterans’ Day event or Women’s History Month event (everything you need to know and forward along is here)

  3. Advocate for bringing Going for Grit and Paths 2 Purpose to YOUR organization for the leadership development you need for a better organization and a better world. (All you need to know is here— but if you have more questions reach out to me directly)

I’m grateful to hear from you all about how it is that The Grit Factor and The Grit Institute continues to guide and support you and your teams in your lives and work.

A bientôt,



This poem by Ross Gay. 
Creativity, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Creative Change, by Jennifer Mueller
Listening to Your Life, by Frederick Buechner
The Grit Factor Book by Shannon Huffman Polson


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The Grit Factor:
Courage, Resilience, and Leadership in the Most Male-Dominated Organization in the World