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Grit versus Grind: Which one is Winning?


"There is a significant difference between grit and grind. People with a ton of grit walk away from situations all the time. They are willing to focus. Grit is about prioritizing oneself, while grind is concerned with external perceptions." - Dr. Brene Brown.


This weekend, my son and I found ourselves caught in a downpour while heading to a science fair at the local stadium, where he had committed to volunteering through school. Initially excited, my pride as a mother swelled that he had volunteered on his own to give up some of his Saturday. However, as we trudged through the rain, passing through security that demanded I pour out my steaming hot coffee, I couldn't help but wonder, is this grit or simply foolishness? To add to the chaos, my twelve-year-old began to whine about wanting to go home. In response, I reminded him of his commitment, emphasizing the importance of showing up when we make promises. Upon arriving at the booth, his teacher and I shared a laugh, still soaked from the rain, agreeing that the situation was both remarkable and somewhat disastrous.


Later, during our trip to Sephora (a familiar destination for any mom dealing with the skincare obsessions of pre-teens), we delved into a discussion about the distinction between grit and grind. This reflection reminded me of an enlightening podcast I had recently listened to featuring Dr. Brene Brown on "We Can Do Hard Things" with Abby Wabach, Glennon Doyle, and Sister.


As women and working mothers, we often struggle to differentiate between the two. We try to cultivate self-compassion, set boundaries, and prioritize self-care. Recognizing our human limitations and needs, it's crucial to understand that asking for help or taking breaks when necessary is not only acceptable but essential. By prioritizing our well-being and practicing self-compassion, we can sustain our grit without succumbing to the draining effects of constant grind.


Heading into Women's History Month, I challenge us all to become more aware of when we are truly exercising grit versus falling into the trap of grind.


Grit, as defined by psychologist Angela Duckworth, refers to the combination of passion and perseverance towards long-term goals. It involves sustaining effort and interest over an extended period, even in the face of difficulties, setbacks, or failures. For working moms, one of the hallmarks of grit is our ability to balance commitments effectively, focusing our energy on what matters most and making strategic choices to ensure our goals are achieved.


We are all too familiar with the concept of grinding, often facing a relentless cycle of daily responsibilities, including managing our homes, caring for children, and navigating our careers.


Recently, I've begun to challenge myself to be more deliberate about where I invest my time and how to prioritize self-care and family time. It has been eye-opening to see where there is a difference between "showing up" motivated by grit versus getting caught up in the grind.


Reflecting on the science fair, my son and I concluded that it was indeed an exercise in grit. We had given our word to be there, and because integrity is a core value for us, our commitment was about us, not about external perceptions.


I hope you will join me in challenging yourself this month to reflect on when you are "gritting" and when you are "grinding". I would love to learn from you about your reflections - email me at dana@makeworkworkformoms.org



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