I’ve officially reached my final month of consulting. (What?) In my typical fashion, I get reflective as chapters are ending, and today I’m reminded of the two words that have gotten me through the tough moments of this year. I first heard them together in January 2016 as I sat in the boardroom of our headquarters to interview for this job. I remember the million questions I had about what life on the road would bring, as Wendy, our Executive Director, thanked us for coming to interview and encouraged us to think honestly about whether we were ready for the challenge. “We look for two main qualities in our consultants that will allow them to succeed: an equal balance of grace and grit.”
Grace and grit.
These two words sum up my experience as a Leadership Consultant more than any narrative I could write about a chapter visit. This work takes grace: an ability to trust people you’ve never met and to see the positive even amidst tough circumstances. We interact with a whole host of people from different chapters, communities and places, and we learn to come into a new situation and build rapport with people in just a few days. It takes an honest analysis of your own strengths and challenges and a desire to work independently. Having grace at all times means you have the humility to recognize your own limited perspective and learn from the experiences of others. It takes a reality check, a great deal of patience and a genuine connection to the value of your work.
Equally, if not even more important to me this year, has been been the word grit. I’ve never considered myself a particularly gritty person, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have guessed that that this would ever become a personal byword of mine. Having grit means more than just being tough: it means sticking to it when there are a million things being thrown at you that you weren’t prepared to handle. It means honoring your commitments even when you want to turn the other way. It means getting in there, doing difficult things, and having a sense of persistence through it all. Gritty people are willing to go the distance. They don’t quit when situations are far from glamorous or ideal. They fight for what they know is right even when it’s hard. I love that quality and I want to be that way. This job has given me the resilience to weather a hurricane, and for that I could not be more thankful.
Twenty six more days until I readjust to “real life,” and I am very ready for the consistency and routine of having a regular schedule and a community to claim as mine. However, I’m damn grateful and proud of the lessons this year has taught me, and I won’t soon forget a single one of them. I’ve learned to speak up, to appreciate solitude and to adapt to any given circumstance or challenge. I’ve learned to say thank you, I’m sorry and you’re welcome, to make a home out of a place I’ve never seen before and to welcome the adversity of never getting comfortable. I’ve learned that people are surprisingly kind when you don’t deserve it and that strangers are sometimes the best people with which to share a meal.
Thank you to everyone in my life who has made this year worth it (you know who you are). I am a different person because of it. Here’s to the final stretch!