Let's talk GRIT

Grit determination success

Liz Wootton talks grit: an important factor in success.

I live with chronic pain, and it has affected my life in many ways, not least because I had to give up my beloved GojuRyu Karate practice. I loved the fitness, strength, confidence and mental wellness it gave me. For a long time I hoped I could go back to it, but the more time went on, the more it became apparent that a return might not be wise. I struggled to find a replacement exercise that would allow me to get my heart rate up, move my body within its limits, and not flare my pain. I also longed for the mind-body-spirit connection. 

I was advised to find something ‘fun’.  But not anything too stretchy (so not yoga) or with too much impact (so not running), or bending forwards (so not cycling), or extending my back (so swimming not great either). 😳 It felt like a pointless quest.

But there was part of me that hung onto the idea that I would find something I could do which would allow me to work within the limits of my body and be fun enough to make me want to do it.  I kept the thought with me – and when I suddenly remembered 5Rhythms, a type of dance I had done more than 20 years ago, that grit served me well. It meant I was ready to see the opportunity that 5Rhythms was offering.  It meant I stayed curious and open-minded enough to try it.

Grit also served me well in the weeks (or months?) that followed the first thought.  I didn’t jump on the action immediately after I remembered 5Rhythms.  It stayed an idea for a long time before I actually decided to DO it.  I had to work through the various resistances and habitual thoughts and behaviours that were getting in the way of me making a start.  I was tired.  I was busy.  I was in too much pain.  I wasn’t in that much pain and didn’t want to risk a pain flare.  I put time aside and then got sidetracked by some other task…  Grit ultimately was responsible for me not giving up on the idea of trying 5Rhythms, despite all the resistances I was putting in my own way.

Eventually, I gave it a shot.  I asked the resistant voice to be quiet for 30 minutes while I put the guided YouTube video on.  And I danced the 5Rhythms in my living room.

Grit – the years of not giving up on finding a fun form of exercise I could do, the months of not giving up even when my own resistances were creating barriers – finally paid off.  At the end of that first half hour, I felt elated.  Next day, after no pain flare (I was even more elated at that), I did it again. I took the photo above after the fourth day’s 5Rhythms.  And was inspired to write this.

Here is how I describe Grit:

Grit is perseverance and determination, but more than that – Grit is perseverance in the face of adversityGrit is the ability to face a challenging obstacle head-on (like exercising with persistent pain), and go through failure after failure to get around it, but never giving up on finding a creative solution.

Grit is patience. Accepting that slow progress is still progress. Accepting that failure is a learning opportunity, not the end of everything. Grit is accepting marginal gains and knowing that small is great.

Grit is accepting that things outside of your control might mean your plans or goals have to be adjusted. Living through the upheaval that is a global pandemic has affected everyone’s plans.  If you set goals early in 2020, you might have wondered if it was worth the effort.  Grit is keeping the idea with you even if it has to go on hold for a while.

Grit is NOT hustle.  It’s not GRRRR.

Grit is a marathon, not a sprint. Grit can be slow and steady, quiet and invisible.

Grit is accepting the cold hard facts of your situation, but not losing faith that you will prevail in the end.


Find out more about working with Liz Wootton here.

Find out more about the 5Rhythms here.