More Joy, Less Grind

Grow Your Own Grit – Some thoughts on creating “More Joy, Less Grind”

By Mary Gratch – July 26, 2017 –


About a year ago, I put out a request to friends and former students to tell me what “grit” means to them. I got lovely answers – full of power and perspective. One that I really loved was “more joy, less grind.” I’ve been thinking about that. Here are some ideas that I hope you will ponder.


I worked as a high school guidance counselor for many years and I love that I live in a community where I meet up with students and parents here and there and see how their lives are moving forward. Sometimes I learn that a student forged ahead just as anticipated – to college and graduate school and into the career they planned. More often students move in a wavy line as their experiences lead them to fresh ideas, new journeys, interesting jobs and hobbies, and onto paths that really fit better than those they anticipated at age 16. I love being witness to all of these young people – those that knew just what they wanted, those who chose to explore new ideas, and those who sometimes stumbled along the way as they found their own footing.  It takes some courage to step off the planned pathway and see what it is that they want – what might stir their passions and bring out their gifts. Each choice takes courage and grit – the willingness to set a goal or change a goal and then climb toward it and fight for it or just keep marching forward to make it happen.


I am a fan of recognizing personal talents and passions and seeing where those might lead a person. I think there are so many options and ideas out in the world that we can’t even imagine. What a gift to find a focus and direction! I enjoyed reading Angela Duckworth’s Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Here are some of her thoughts:

You can grow your own grit.

On your own, you can grow your grit “from the inside out”: You can cultivate your interests. You can develop a habit of daily challenge-exceeding-skill practice. You can connect your work to a purpose beyond yourself. And you can learn to hope when all seems lost.

You can also grow your grit “from the outside in.” Parents, coaches, teachers, bosses, mentors, friends – developing your personal grit depends critically on other people.


I think it is especially interesting as an older person to think about how I can help a younger person grow their grit “from the outside in.” Parents do this all day long – holding their children in their minds and hearts with great hope and lots of (mostly good) advice. Other adults in a young person’s life can help them grow grit by sharing their own stories, giving advice, offering internships, and joining in the celebration at each step of the journey. The students who are most successful receive helped along the way – a joy for the giver and the receiver.


I want to tell you a little about a couple students who exemplify passion and perseverance. Edie owns and runs her own organic farm on the west coast. She works hard! There is definitely some grind in her days but she emerges smiling with lovely flowers, vegetables, and fruits that she shares in her community. She is physically strong and financially making her way. Maybe I should add vigor to the list of powers that help one succeed! Another student is Aidan, now a college professor at a prestigious school where he teaches and does sociology research. He helps young people to consider their own gifts and interests and enlists them for internships and research. As I think of my students, I think of Leslie who is a pediatric nurse and Lillian who is a special education teacher. I think of Aaron who is a restaurant manager and Martin who plans to go back to college this fall and finish his degree. Did I mention Laura? She edits my blogs. I could go on and on – I’m proud to see how the grownup versions of my former high school students are moving along their own individual paths.


I hope you can move toward your personal goals with more joy, less grind. Think about it.


Mary Gratch