No matter what we commit to in our lives the need to have grit and tenacity has never been greater. These are traits that truly contribute to long-term success and lasting impact.
There are countless stories of grit and tenacity that have been shared over the years; whether it is Thomas Edison’s grit in overcoming failure after failure to invent the light bulb or the tenacity of famous horror writer Stephen King who received so many rejection letters that he had a filing system to sort them all.
These stories are inspiring, however at times they are overly used…sometimes we need fresh perspective from an example not readily known to prevent us in becoming mentally calloused.
Below is a story I hope can be added to our shared lexicon as an inspiring case of grit and tenacity.
Recently, I finished reading the book Our Daily Bread – the Essential Norman Borlaug by Noel Vietmeyer. The pages tell the story of a young, driven Iowa farmer Norman Borlaug. He would go on to become a wheat geneticist who would help reverse the trends of famine and starvation in many developing countries around the world. His story is incredible and I strongly recommend the book as a must read for anyone who desires to be involved in positive transformation of our communities and world.
One story stood out in particular as I read the book. Norman faced what appeared an insurmountable challenge in plant genetics; he was trying to create a wheat that was shorter stemmed to give it greater strength to hold the heavy grain-filled heads, high grain yield, stem rust resistance, and finally still had good bread baking characteristics.
It was almost laughable to think about trying to have a wheat that checked all these boxes…most people including the very foundation supporting his endeavor doubted his efforts. It was after six years and exactly 8156 genetic crosses that Norman discovered four little wheat plants that would go on to fit the bill from that crossing!
To grant some perspective, each of the genetic crosses would include anywheres from 60 – 100 individual plants during each cross. Therefore, approximately 81,560 plants were raised and subsequently checked ensuring the discovery of the four that would go on to transform agriculture even to this day!
Obviously, Norman was not alone on this journey, but it was his inspiring example of grit and tenacity which served as a constant encouraging force upon those around him and on his team. It was never an option to accept failure, Norman and his team knew all too well what was at stake and that millions of farmers and people depended on their eventual success.
There is much we can learn from his example. Anything we find worth committing and dedicating our lives towards will take time to grow and flourish.
It may take the 8156th try at a specific teaching technique to nail it!
It may take the 8156th push up to shed a few pounds!
It may take the 8156th stroke to finish an artistic masterpiece!
Again, anything we are committed to accomplishing, will definitely take more than one try…and if it takes 8156 times…we can do it because we choose GRIT and TENACITY!