Last week, there was nothing to write about for my blog. I hadn’t actually put in any time at my desk to find a topic, but off the top of my head, I was pretty sure that there was nothing to say. Maybe there are a finite number of blog topics and I had used them up. Perhaps my blog was going to die a natural death.
I recently read Angela Duckworth’s excellent book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Duckworth is a research psychologist that has focused on finding out what makes people successful. She has found that it’s not luck or talent, but a combination of passion and persistence that leads to high achievement. She calls this combination “grit.” The grittier the person, the more likely they are to find success. And grit is not a fixed quality. Grit can be fostered and developed, which is a hopeful message for those of us trying to do our best at whatever trips our trigger.
In her book, she writes about something she calls “the Hard Thing.” Every member of her family has to do something challenging and commit to it for a year. They can quit, but it must come at a natural stopping point. This exercise is intended to help everyone in her family develop his or her grit. The author’s Hard Things were writing her book and doing yoga.
Grit and My Blog
The book made me think about my blog. I enjoy writing for it immensely, but some weeks it’s hard to scare up a topic. These topics are especially hard to come up with when I don’t do the work to find them. (No surprise there.)
However, I realized that my blog could be my Hard Thing. Actually, I have a number of Hard Things in the hopper right now, like leading the effort to raise, oh, about $11.5 million dollars to bring an American Cancer Society Hope Lodge to Sioux Falls. I’d say that qualifies. But I’ve written about that before and will write more about it down the road.
However, this blog could be my Hard Thing too. I decided to follow the author’s rule of committing to it for at least a year. I can quit, but it must be at a natural stopping point, not just because I get lazy and don’t do the necessary work. By committing to this, I can cultivate my own grittiness.
I started my blog because I thought it would be fun to be creative and express myself. I hoped a few people would read it. People do read it and I adore working on my posts. But it’s not always easy. Sometimes there seems to be nothing to say.
But there always is something to say. If I put in the effort, I may find a baby hair of an idea. As I fiddle around with it, it becomes thicker. Eventually, it becomes a string and then a rope. And finally it has enough heft to become a decent blog post.
This is how my most recent post on busyness came to be. I thought my writer’s cupboard was bare, but with some effort I found a topic. It was meager at first, but I worked on it and it grew. Eventually, it seemed good enough to post, not great, but good enough. After I posted it, I thought to myself that well, not every post can be above average, this was proof of that. Some posts need to be below average too. It’s that whole bell curve thing.
Little did I know that this entry would bring me an unexpected opportunity.
Thirty minutes after I posted it, I was contacted by Lori Walsh, a radio host from South Dakota Public Radio (SDPB). She liked my post. Would I like to come into the studio to record it next week for future broadcast?
Heck, YEAH! I would love to do that! She told me that I needed to edit the post, since I couldn’t rely on pictures to tell my story on the radio (darn it). But I was eager to try and make it understandable for radio listeners.
I spent the weekend fine-tuning the essay and read it out loud many times. Slowly but surely, the post improved. I got rid of the words I tripped over. And I had fun cracking myself up as I read it repeatedly. There’s nothing wrong with making yourself laugh, right?
I went to the recording studio on the local college campus on Monday afternoon. As I entered the building, two skinny college guys walked out the door. One was wearing neon yellow shorts, despite the 30-degree temperature. They said hi. It was fun to be on a campus. It’s a different world that’s walking distance from where I live.
I didn’t know where to go in the building to find the studio. I walked by a pool table with students playing. I wondered if any of them could give me directions. I couldn’t catch anyone’s eye. I wandered past them, trying to look young and confident.
I spotted the SDPB sign with a rectangular glass window that showcased lots of technical equipment. To the left of the glass, was an entryway. I saw a coffee table with some books on it. Whew! This must be the waiting room.
I nervously walked in like I owned the place, relieved to have found where I thought I was supposed to go. A scholarly gentleman looked up from his desk. He didn’t look like an administrative assistant. He asked if he could help me. Uh oh. I was not in the radio station’s waiting room. I was in a professor’s office! He must have an open door policy. Whoops.
I apologized and walked further down the hallway and found the real entrance. Lori, the radio host, and I went to high school together. I have seen her a few times since then and we are Facebook friends. It was great to catch up. She’s warm, smart and genuine. After visiting, I felt less nervous about my upcoming recording.
Then it was time for me to read. It went well. My practice had paid off.
And just like that, I was done. The host told me that they will broadcast my piece when they need some “filler.” She will also send me a link to its online broadcast when it becomes available. I will post it on my blog once I get it. I’m hopeful some new readers will find my blog once my segment has aired.
Moral of the Story: Stick to It
So here’s the moral to the story: Grit pays. If you can, find something you like to do. Commit to it. Persevere, even when it gets hard. Cultivate your grit. And because of this grit, unexpectedly good things may fall into your lap. Like being asked to read what you’ve written on the radio. You just never know!
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