WEBSTER defines GRIT as (1)
small, loose particles of stone or sand and (2) courage and resolve;
strength of character.
I remember watching the movie, TRUE
GRIT, staring John Wayne. It is the story of a drunken,
hard-nosed U.S. Marshal and a Texas Ranger helping a stubborn
teenager track down her father’s murderer in Indian territory. If
you haven’t seen it, you should rent it. Anything with John Wayne is
worth seeing, again and again.
Not long ago, I ran across a TED TALK by Angela
Duckworth. (Google TED TALK, and you will find a
huge number of informative TALKS by a variety of presenters, about a
broad variety of subjects. It will be worth your web surfing
time.) Angela was part of a group’s multi-year effort to define
SUCCESS… what are the elements that predict whether a person
will be successful in whatever endeavor they pursue. The group hoped
to find the societal and family influences that could be used to
accurately predict who would succeed in life. They looked at family
history, parental discipline, financial class, illnesses, sport team
participation, IQ levels, grade point averages, opportunities
afforded some and not others, the school or college of graduation
and many other sub-factors. However, none of those produced any
reliable prediction of success whatsoever.
What they did discover was that, regardless of
all those factors, those who became successful in their endeavors
were those with GRIT… a willingness to work hard, with a
sense of purpose, a vision, with the raw determination to
preserver, no matter what... just plain old GRIT.
In 1950 we were a share-cropper family in
central Texas, growing wheat and cotton on the halves, meaning the
land owner got half of the profit and we got half. That spring a
fierce Texas sand storm blew through and cut down the cotton growing
on top of the terraces throughout the field. It was a loss we could
not sustain. While some neighboring farmers were packing their
bags, Daddy told the older boys to plow under all the damaged
cotton. A few hours later, he came back from town with a pickup load
of pinto beans and we planted them where the cotton had been. That
summer, we harvested and made more money than if the cotton had not
been damaged. One of Daddy’s sayings was... ”If you can’t make a
dollar, make a half.” Dad only had a third-grade education,
but he was the smartest man I ever knew. Throughout the years, I
never saw my dad give up on anything; he could always figure out a
Maybe I inherited Dad’s GRIT. When I
reported to OCS (Class 02-67) I did not sense any warm fuzzies
from Bobby Ward and John Holland, our TACs. They immediately told
all of us that we were sick pukes and just needed to
quit. I arrived as a PFC and was one of the youngest in the
class. There were far more experienced and higher-ranking NCOs all
around who should have had it all figured out, but to my
surprise, more than a few of them quit in the early weeks of
OCS. They couldn’t LAST in such an environment. To be honest, I
didn’t like all the harassment and humiliation associated with this
weeding-out process, but I never once considered
quitting. Even in my inexperienced mind, I knew that the rewards
were worth the hell we were going through. Turns out... I was
right. OCS was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It
prepared me for some challenging times I would face later, including
Vietnam. It gave me a perspective on what’s important that
I would never have had otherwise.
The Bible talks about the importance of hard
work and determination. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do,
work at it with all your heart, as working for the
Lord, not for human masters.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 says,
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be
I really enjoy being in an association with all
of you, who have a measure of GRIT that got you where you are
today. Since we are all on or approaching the downhill side,
I want to encourage you to spread the GRIT around,
by creating a legacy that honors who you were and empowers those in
your family tree to be courageous and strong.
Blessings to all of you in 2018.
Max Holt, Class 02-67
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