August 2022

August 2022

Is there something calling you, in your professional or personal life, that you’ve been avoiding? Maybe it’s addressing a challenge or obstacle, taking an educational opportunity or a stretch assignment, or training for a marathon. Maybe it’s going deeper into the art history you studied in college?

If we take a moment to simply be, these possibilities begin to appear, first as ideas, perhaps as something you return to again and again (clicking through on that professional development class? Taking that trip to South America? Committing to that graduate degree, or asking for a stretch assignment? or simply spending more time with your partner or child, or visiting a friend) but have never taken steps to make happen.

This August is a scary and exciting time for my family and me. We’ve responded to that quiet continuous whisper, leaving our home and community to live across the world in France. Our boys will go to French school, and will have to learn subjects entirely in French, which we don’t yet know. We will continue our own work remotely (in English) but be working hard to continue the study of French, which has been a lifelong dream of mine. Living in the French alps was something my husband is nearly giddy about. Wins all around. (picture above from the top of a mountain near Morzine).

Why France? Not for any official reason. I love the sound of the French language, so different from the English and German I know, and the art, the history, the culture (and the food, the wine!) It’s central, so easy to travel to the rest of Europe. I realized at some point, not too long ago (it took me that long to come to this) that I did not have to have a reason that was logical or connected to any other requirements to move ahead on my dreams.

There are plenty of reasons this didn’t make sense. An exhaustive and exhausting list why it might be a bad idea, or a bad time. But to face the wind, you turn toward that voice, and you listen. You decide what needs to be done to make the impossible possible.

It helped to run into the lovely Marine in our hometown, who connected us with her parents in the place where she was raised, a small French ski village, and that connection has been the most incredible good fortune. Because of their hospitality, we will settle in with as little pain as possible into their village just outside the science and technology center of Grenoble.

Another benefit? It’s always been a goal to have our children learn another language, but the only way to truly learn is immersion— and to have their parents interested, too. Early on our kids had some childcare in Mandarin, along with going to young child Mandarin lessons, but it wasn’t really an interest if mine, and when you’re tired with what is required at work and at home— at the end of the day, if you’re not interested, it doesn’t happen in any meaningful way.

And so: we have arrived in France, my husband has installed Starlink for video engagements of all kinds— virtual keynotes, executive coaching and leadership education at The Grit Institute— and I am learning French, slowly (though the two weeks where we spent three hours a day for two weeks felt like a firehose.) There isn’t a person out there who would tell you that moving your family to France is easy, or will be easy, for anyone involved. But we do it anyway, because it is where we are supposed to be, because that small voice never went away— because as Dan Pink confirmed in his recent book on regret, we regret more those things we didn’t do, than those we did. Because as I learned in the story I tell in North of Hope, life is short.

What is the plan for the year? I’m busy writing right now— in multiple genres, but hope sometime this year you’ll get more of a peek into a few specifics. And part of that journey is hearing from YOU about what is most important to you, your biggest challenges, the things that keep you up at night. (reply to this email or comment below— better yet, send a voicemail (link below) and share with me!)

Among other benefits of turning to face this wind?

Doing hard things makes you better at doing hard things.

Exercising the muscle of facing the wind, and you develop that ability, like a weathervane, to turn toward where that breath, that wind, is coming. And then as you know— like in the Apache, like in life, the resistance can help you to rise.

As they say in France, a bientot— see you soon!

To your grit,


PS I would love to hear from you! How is your summer? What dreams are you pursuing or will you pursue this year? What are your most pressing questions, and how can I help to answer them? If you’d like, leave me a voicemail with your name, where you’re from and your question or comment (you may end up on the Grit Factor podcast!)— or just reply to this email.

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