During the WITness Success Conference in Denver Colorado last week, attendees were presented with a powerful keynote delivered by the gritty and graceful Leah McGowen-Hare. Leah, who holds an MSEd and is a Senior Director at Salesforce, motivated and inspired a diverse roomful of nearly 200 professionals as she articulated the meaning and concepts of using gratitude to weave together the attributes of grit and grace.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Malala Yousafzai, Serena Williams, Rosa Parks, Emma Gonzalez, and Sheryl Sandberg were just a few of the names that came to mind when Leah asked us to write down those that represented grit and grace in the way they lived their lives. For me, the list of gritty women was literally the same as the list of graceful women. How could that be you ask? Well it is quite simple really.
Grit without grace; or the inverse – grace without grit is simply inadequate. One can be really gritty, almost abrasive or disruptive if grace is not mixed into the equation. Conversely, if one is all grace with no grit, strength and leadership is missing from the equation. A perfect illustration of this is Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s response to the question: “When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?” To which she replied, “When there is nine!” Her intent was based in logic and not emotion. She went on to explain that the nine seats of the Supreme Court have always been occupied by men, with only she as the exception. She did not articulate this with anger, hatred, or any abrasiveness. Instead, she made this gritty statement – one that required courage, expertise, tenure, and good counsel – with grace, logic, and leadership. She also followed that statement with a humbling admission that if granted one wish by God, she would want him to make her a Diva! I can only wonder why she thought she needed that attribute – even someone as accomplished and remarkable as RBG, wishes for some extrinsic physical attributes that she does not possess. I would do just about anything to interview her about that statement!
The moral to the story is this: approach life with the right balance of grit and grace. Do the real work to find gratitude in the here and now and insist on bringing that into what you say and what you do. Be strong, yet soft; be courageous, yet humble; be a leader, yet keep listening; and above all come from a place of gratitude first. Living from this reflective perspective will pave the road for a gracefully gritty platform of living.
You can view Ruth’s interview here.