June 29, 2015

True Grit

True Grit

I seldom have a pity party these days. You know, where you feel sorry for yourself and think the world owes you something.

But, sometimes I do lapse and come up with the pathetic refrain, “Why me?”

Of course, when I step back and have a look at my life I see that it is fine. In fact, I’ve been given more than my due. Goodness, I could have been born in the dark ages. If you lived beyond 30, it was a miracle. I’m 52 in July and rather spry for my age, even if I say so myself.

On the rare occasion that I do feel sorry for myself, I look for people who have overcome bigger odds than I’ll ever have to. It helps put my lot into perspective.

  • I doubt I’ll ever have to face what American bombardier, Louis Zamperini faced in World War 2. He survived 47 days stranded at sea by catching and killing hungry sharks and drinking the warm blood of albatrosses – only to be captured by the Japanese and horrifically tortured for years in their most brutal POW camps.
  • Let’s consider 17-year-old Juliane Koepcke, who in 1971 was flying over the Peruvian rainforest with her mother when her plane was hit by lightning. She survived a 3,2 kilometre fall and survived more than 10 days alone in the jungle before she found help.
  • Closer to home I look at Billy Selekane, who eked out a living on the streets of Tembisa in his bare feet. Today, he is one of the top professional speakers in South Africa and a best-selling author, who has been inducted into the Southern African Speakers Hall of Fame and received the Distinguished Tembisan Award for achievement.
  • Battling to study? Take a leaf out of Africa’s greatest explorer, Scot, David Livingstone’s (1813 – 1873) book. At the age of 10 he began working at a local cotton mill. He went to school each evening for two hours after a 12-hour shift at work. Thus, he learned Latin, Greek and mathematics and won a place at Glasgow University.
  • Or take Jean-Dominique Bauby who when he was editor-in-chief of French Elle magazine suffered a massive stroke which left him with locked-in syndrome. He wrote his memoir The Diving Bell and The Butterfly by blinking his left eyelid. He wrote the entire book in 10 months (four hours a day). It went on to become a number one bestseller across Europe. Its total sales today are in the millions. On March 7, 1997, two days after the book was published, Bauby died of pneumonia.

What makes these unique individuals different to those of us who moan and complain about our lot?

Let’s unpack some of their traits:

  • They don’t have a victim mentality.
  • They don’t believe that this world or anyone in it has a custodial duty towards them.
  • They take 100% responsibility for their actions.
  • They make a firm decision and then act on it 100%.
  • They don’t deviate off the path.
  • They have a compelling vision that keeps them going.

They have what is called, true grit.

Photo from the True Grit movie courtesy of

One Comment on “True Grit

June 29, 2015 at 4:50 pm

Great post to get us grounded and back to gratefulness. Thank you.


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