Boston Strong: Resilience and True Grit in Action
4/22/2013 10:50:00 AM
Wow. What a month. I had intended to write about energy drinks this month—the good, the bad and the unsafe—but that can wait until May. This month I will write instead about the resilience that Boston showed after the historical and tragic week of the Boston Marathon.
I recently read a business article that advised women in particular to “Develop resilience and ‘true grit.’ Be strong enough to do what is right.” I dedicate this blog to the entire Boston community this month, where we had to prove in body, mind and spirit what resilience and true grit are really all about: rising to the challenge in the face of adversity, and coming together to ultimately overcome it.
It was a tough week in our city as we dealt with the senseless tragedy that took the lives of four of our people and injured 176 others. The “Boston Strong” mantra characterized the spirit that carried us through five days of shock, sadness, horror, fear, confusion and anger following the bombings on Patriots’ Day. Those five days ended with the climatic capture of the one surviving suspect, and now we are deeply saddened and emotionally and mentally exhausted. But we are also firmly on our feet and stronger as a community than we were a week ago, whether or not we feel that way individually.
Adversity is not something any of us seek out, but it is something that touches each of us at different points in our lives and in different ways. Whether we lose a job, get a divorce, experience the death of someone close to us, whatever it is—we will all go through similar experiences. Even at a traditionally celebratory and joyful event like the Boston Marathon, we can unexpectedly be faced with a situation we couldn’t have imagined. It is at these times that we may feel at our most vulnerable and fearful, but we get through it and bond together as human beings. When it’s over, we just lived through something that made us more resilient and stronger than we were before it happened. We may not all feel stronger, but we are. How we feel and what we are don’t always match up right away.
It is the challenges that we face that ultimately strengthen us by giving us the opportunity to understand ourselves and each other, stretch ourselves beyond what we imagine our boundaries to be, push the envelope, and most often surprise ourselves with how much we can handle. And what we do in response to the adversity is what makes us more resilient and more capable of handling a challenge the next time we are faced with one. Those of us involved in athletic events know this: no pain, no gain. Progress is always made if we tough it through, even if we occasionally get sidelined from injury, exhaustion or overwork. We get up and try again, putting one foot in front of the other.
Earlier this month I watched the tough Louisville women’s basketball team break through their limitations to make it all the way to the Final Four national championship, against all odds. Everything they embodied—resilience, true grit, toughness (mental, emotional and physical) combined with the seemingly more “feminine” traits of collaboration, cooperation, teamwork and support—had me on my feet cheering them on and hoping they would win, despite being a UConn Huskies fan. Whether it is something as fun as sports or as frightening as terrorism, our challenges make us more resilient and unite us.
Our mental and emotional toughness—as individuals, employees, managers, athletes, spouses, partners, family members—is proven every day, we just need to recognize it in ourselves. Every day, every week, every year we can challenge ourselves to get a little better at something, a little stronger, a little more daring, push our own envelope. That means saying to hell with anything that stops us from trying something new, quitting a job we’re unhappy in, going after a job we want, doing something we’ve always wanted to do, and rising to the occasion when faced with adversity. It means being strong enough to show ourselves what we can do. Grace under pressure, just like we were this past week in Boston. It means being Boston Strong.