The Grit Factor and Audacity: What You Need to Succeed

May 2022

Opportunities for you:

1. Have a question you'd like me to address on The Grit Factor podcast? send me a voicemail HERE, and I'll select questions to answer in future episodes.

2. If you love the podcast and want to keep it going, become a supporter! Check out opportunities HERE, and some pretty awesome benefits, including exclusive merchandise and content! I set this up a while ago, but have only just now launched to keep the podcast on the air. I'll shout out supporters on upcoming episodes as well. And let me know what you value, and what you'd like to see, with a quick email!

podcast episode 6

The Grit Factor:The Podcast, Episode 6

The Grit Factor podcast welcomes technology CEO Deidre Paknad, one of a tiny fraction in her field. We talk about OKRs, of course, but also about tragedy and its motivating impact, about cycling, a different view of mindset, and her goal around grit which resonated deeply with my own journey. Her recommendations for those making career transitions are liberating. Enjoy!

This past month I was fortunate to join a small group journeying to Spokane, Washington to hear Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church speak. His message in his final address: belief leads to understanding, and not the other way around. Not at all coincidentally, I listened finally to Brene Brown's interview of Father Richard Rohr (I'm a huge fan of them both) and Richard, too, spoke of the way faith has been transformed to mean certainty, which neuters its possibility and negates its meaning.

What does all of this have to do with The Grit Factor? Everything. Below, in our monthly journey through each chapter of The Grit Factor, we'll talk about audacity, taking risks, and facing fear and failure. It's hard, because taking risks means things are uncertain. We have to work with what we know. We have to, as Ted Lasso reminds us, BELIEVE.

It's an extension of and aspect of mindset, which we discussed in the last newsletter, but it's also action informed by that mindset.

To be frank, it's not audacity to invest in your people-- that part IS certain. That's why scheduling a Grit Factor keynote and follow on learning journey simply makes sense, if you are focused on retaining and engaging employees.

If you missed it last month, I'm so grateful for this feedback from a recent participant in Paths 2 Purpose as offered through the Tuck School at Dartmouth (interested in offering Paths 2 Purpose at or through your organization or school? Reach out and inquire about being applying to be an affiliate, or scheduling a facilitated journey):

"One week in, you have transformed me. I followed your lessons and wrote down the events in my life that have been formative, I saw in my own handwriting that there are so many more positive experiences than negative.

... My journey line became one of power and strength versus weakness and defeat."

The Grit Factor in 8 months:

Month 6 of our reflection on The Grit Factor. The first component of the Launch Leg of the Grit Triad, looking at movement into the future while grounded in the past and deeply engaged in the present-- and we start with audacity (Chapter 6 of The Grit Factor).

Audacity: the willingness to take risks. The willingness to accept that sometimes, you will fail. Being willing to ask for and seek out the hard assignments, those that nobody else wants to do.

In The Grit Factor, it's clear that leaders with long term success understood risk taking and occasional failure as a path to their successes. You remember the audacity of Alda Siebrands-- who put her life on the line. Most of us don't have to take that kind of risk, but it may feel that way. Audacity like anything else, is not only a frame of mind, but a decision for action. And it has its time and its place. But it's absolutely certain that success does not come without an element of risk, and the ability to face fear and face failure head on.

If you're still unsure, ask yourself this question: where can I choose to face uncertainty, to face fear? What can I take on to stretch myself and contribute meaningfully?

Remember, with fear and with failure, you do the same thing you do on take off: turn to face the wind.

With love and to your grit,


PS who do you know who needs their own copy of The Grit Factor? Look ahead to graduations this month and next...there isn't a better gift!

“How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and that one is what we are doing.”- Annie Dillard

Giving Back:

How are supporting those who need it most?

In this time of war, like many of you, we're donating to the International Red Cross and to Doctors Without Borders, as well as the Episcopal Relief and Development Agency. Please consider giving generously to well-vetted charities making a difference in the Ukraine, Afghanistan and in places the world needs it most.

A Few Other things:

  1. One of my favorite things is meeting like-minded people working with passion and purpose, and I recently came off a connection call with Laura McKenna, a West Point grad and now coach and retreat leader for high-powered women. Her focus on alignment resonates deeply-- with grit, and with life. Give her a follow.
  2. "On A Street in Aleppo" was selected for publication in this year's Emerge Literary Journal. You can read it here.
  3. Check out this interview from the Grit University folks including my college Brian Harbin, of four veterans who rowed the Atlantic Ocean to raise awareness for veteran suicide. Talk about purpose (and grit)!
  4. Finally, thoughts on slowing down and how that makes us better able to experience life from the Aspen Institute.

Keynotes & Learning Journey Facilitation

Booking now for keynotes and learning journey facilitation this upcoming fall and winter. Virtual keynotes and in person in Europe with limited in-person engagements available in the states July 2022-July 2023.

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