Commit to Grit

Commit to Grit by RVWA Member Angel Swindell of Freelance by Starfish Services.

Shannon Huffman Polson, Author of The Grit Factor (coming out soon) and CEO of The Grit Institute, was our guest presenter at RVWA’s June 19, 2020 Coffee, Lunch, and Learn sponsored by New England RV Dealer’s Association (NERVDA).  Shannon is a Veteran that has also served in the corporate world.  She is a grit guru, leadership trainer, and storyteller.

One of Shannon’s first comments to the group was, “All of us need grit all of the time…but especially now.”  She outlined three phases discussed in her book The Grit Factor:  Commit, Learn, and Launch.

To Commit Shannon explains, “A leader knows that she has to start with her own story first.”   She has a solid foundation in the past and is willing to decide her own story much like Shannon did when she climbed into the apache helicopter for the first time.  A leader is engaged in the present moment but is always looking toward the future.  Shannon describes the action to commit as, “You turn the nose to face the wind and the resistance will help you to rise.”

To Learn “leaders are committed to constantly finding ways to learn.”  Shannon highlighted listening as a critical skill.  She believes we learn from challenges and further compelled, “Leaders cannot be afraid to fail and that the key was getting back up one more time than you fall.”  Instead of being crippled by stress, she urges us to understand and embrace how stress enhances performance.  Bottom line, Shannon is firm that mindset matters and is critical to success.

To Launch is all about “audacity, authenticity, and adaptability.”  Shannon tells us to possess courage of ownership.  She says, “so many inputs coming to each of our cockpits…we have to be willing to turn down the volume and tune out the noise.”  She also pointed out that all of us are afraid sometimes and especially of the unknown.   Fear is normal and another form of resistance.  Shannon is clear that we must “turn towards it and fly directly through it. What do you do with failure….you own it…and move through it.”  She also reminds us, “You land the same way as you take off….against the wind.”

In addition to the commit, learn, launch approach of employing grit and resilience, Shannon was very clear that, “TAKING CARE OF YOUR PEOPLE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ROLE THAT WE HAVE.” She further drilled that you have to take care of your people when they can’t take care of themselves.”  This is not always a popular choice but is part of owning your story. 

Shannon said that when it comes to opportunities, “You have to be willing to ask for what you want.” You also must know what you want and that you deserve it.  She mentioned a study that showed men will ask for an opportunity when they are 50% qualified and women will typically wait to engage until they are 150% qualified.

As the only pilot out of 120 attack pilots at Ft. Brag,  Shannon worked very hard to not give her superiors or peer group anything to criticize.  She gained trust and confidence by holding herself to a higher standard.  Again, she mentioned taking care of your people is critical.  Shannon says to ask yourself, “How do I help them do their job best?”  For more information about Shannon or to access her self-paced online course (discount code YZrBhays) please visit her leadership training website.