The Other Side of True Grit: How not to beat yourself up

“You idiot!” I berated myself for locking the car before taking my bag out. I was in a flap, rushing to an appointment. That morning I had dropped a picture and cracked the glass, dumped half the chicken food bucket over my feet, and slipped taking the stairs two at a time.


Calling myself an idiot was not going to help. I remember that my mentor Peter Cook took an oath of kindness as a modern day meditation monk. The oath was never to say an unkind word, including to oneself. I like this oath and have adopted it as a principle by which to live.

Crap. Here I was, beating myself up. Oath failure. That just made me feel worse. Double oath failure.

It got me thinking about the True Grit challenges I explored with my Leadership Over Lunch group. The webinar on this topic is available here. True Grit challenges to develop resolve and resilience need to be HARD, cause disequilibrium, and call us to grow. Some examples are running a marathon, climbing Kilimanjaro, learning Japanese, doing a juice cleanse.

Each of these challenges are noble in the intended outcome. Test limits, expand connection capacity, fine tune digestive system.

If they are done as a punishment, they do not serve us. If we have the mindset of, “I’m not good enough yet therefore I will do this challenge to make me better”, then this is actually self sabotage and self deprecation. We are hurting ourselves with judgement.

Choosing a challenge ought to be an investment in growth, not a punishment for deficits.

Frankly, the thought of running another marathon feels like punishment to me at the moment. I won’t grow with that as a challenge, noble as it is. I already know I can run marathons, I have completed six, I don’t need to stretch myself that way anymore.

The True Grit Challenge I need to undertake is one of radical compassion – for myself. I’m committing to 30 days of radical compassion: no swearing at, name calling, or denigrating myself. I’m strengthening boundaries with my time and relationships. I’m not doing anything out of duty, obligation, or ‘should’. I’m honouring my sleep time and nurturing my body with healthy food choices. I’m investing in self awareness with daily shadow integration work, as per Ken Wilber et al in Integral Life Practice fabulous book for all leaders called to evolve their thinking and being).

This True Grit Challenge feels harder than any other. Why is it harder to love ourselves than to criticise?

Here’s the thing: if we are going to develop our voice to be Truthtellers, then we need to start by being truthful with ourselves.  Being able to speak hard truths needs a strong heart. Radical compassion is my commitment to get there.

What 30 day True Grit Challenge are you committing to? How will you grow through it? Who will you become as a result?

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