7 secrets to becoming successful through sheer grit

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From right: Ellevate President Kristy Wallace, Samantha Ettus, Jas Boothe, and Karen Davis-Farage
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Ellevate

Forget smarts. Forget work ethic. Forget connections.

If you’re looking to succeed, grit is pretty much the one quality you absolutely need. That’s because life’s a mess and sometimes the best you can do is hang on and persevere.

With that in mind, Ellevate Network recently hosted a panel called “Resilience: Tales of True Grit & Bouncing Back.” Moderated by Ellevate’s president Kristy Wallace, it featured Jas Boothe, a disabled Army veteran and founder of Final Salute; Samantha Ettus, a work-life expert and author; and Karen Davis-Farage, the co-owner of Pole Position Raceway.

This group of woman each spoke about obstacles they have overcome in their lives, along with their own definitions of grit.

Here are seven of their takeaways on how to crush both our personal and professional life through sheer resilience:


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RichardBH/Flickr

Ask for help

All three of the panelists made one thing clear – resilient people don’t have to be isolated loners. It’s okay to rely on your networks for help when you’re going through a tough time.

Boothe spoke to her experience relying on a loved one. A major in the US Army Reserves, she was preparing to be deployed to Iraq when she received two pieces of terrible news. She lost her house in Hurricane Katrina and was diagnosed with cancer shortly afterwards. After she’d been discharged from the Army, Boothe’s aunt helped her through six months of surgery and radiation treatments, providing her with a place to stay until she got back on her feet.


Embrace the unexpected

Davis-Farage worked in the corporate world for 30 years before she was abruptly fired from her job in technology in 2008.

“I came home for the first time in thirty years absolutely devastated,” she told the audience. “All my personal and professional esteem was wrapped around this job. I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

Shortly after she lost her job, Davis-Farage’s husband took her son on a trip to look at colleges. They came across an indoor go-karting venue, prompting her son to suggest that his parents open a similar venture in New York.

Davis-Farage’s husband became excited at the prospect, while she remained skeptical. Eventually, she got on board and became the co-owner and president of Pole Position Raceways – a chain of indoor go-karting courses.


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Capture The Uncapturable/Flickr

Find your inspiration

Boothe spoke about her struggles in the wake of Katrina and her cancer diagnosis.

“After being discharged from the military, I was basically homeless,” she told the audience. “I had no home. I had no job. The VA had no programs for women veterans.”

After recuperating at her aunt’s place, she said that her son’s support inspired her to move on.

“I said, ‘You know what? You’ve got to stop throwing yourself a pity party because you owe him more.'”


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Flickr/Jake Guild

Put yourself out there

Davis-Farage had zero experience with running an indoor electric carting venue. Still, she said that by putting herself out there, she found that her leadership and technology experience actually gave her an edge in the industry.

Ettus also discussed her own ability to brave difficult and unfamiliar situations. After graduating college, she had no connections in media, the industry she wanted to pursue. Instead of giving up or passively applying to jobs, she picked up and moved to the West Coast.

“I moved cross country and started knocking on doors and got into a talent agency through a temp agency,” Ettus told the audience. “And that’s how I landed my first job.”


Don’t be scared of failure

When Ettus enrolled in business school, her fellow classmates did not want her to join their study groups, due to her background in a creative industry (individuals who came from finance and accounting were in demand).

Instead of giving up, she formed a ragtag study group and got through it.

Ettus revealed the secret to her success to the audience:

“Over the years, I’ve always been very unafraid to fail.”


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Rain clouds pass over Canary Wharf financial financial district in London
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Tom Hilton/Flickr

Remember that life is messy

It never rains, it pours.

Boothe had to face a cancer diagnosis, discharge from the military, and the loss of her house to a natural disaster simultaneously.

As she wrote her first book, Ettus worked through getting shingles, her dad’s bladder cancer diagnosis, and her mother’s stroke, struggle with cancer, and subsequent death.

The panelists agreed that mourning losses and moving on is the healthiest option when dealing with dire circumstances.

“I think first you have to mourn something,” Davis-Farage told the audience. “Then you have to look at the positive.”


Don’t write off bad days

The panelists discussed the futility of “writing off” bad days, weeks, and years.

Ettus said that life is filled with rough moments, but it’s a mistake to put negative labels on large swaths of time.

“There’s no bad days. By saying that, you’re writing off a huge chunk of time,” Ettus told the audience. “You can’t just write off 2016.”