March - April 2018
by LTC (R) Max Holt, Class 02-67
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 solution.
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 thisweeding-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 strong.”
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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